In a development that could have major implications for State politics, particularly that within the State CPI(M), a CBI special court here has cleared Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan of all the charges levelled against him in the SNC-Lavalin case.
R. Raghu, special judge trying Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases, rejected the CBI charge sheet against Mr. Vijayan and other accused in the case holding that the CBI could not prove any of its charges. The CBI case was that the State exchequer had lost Rs.86.25 crore as a result of a conspiracy involving Mr. Vijayan and the others relating to the award of a Rs.360-crore contract for repair and revival of the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar hydroelectric projects to SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian firm, during 1995-97.
The others discharged along with Mr. Vijayan were former Power Secretary K. Mohanachandran, former Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Chairman P.A. Siddhartha Menon, former KSEB Member (Technical) K.G. Rajasekharan Nair, and former Joint Secretary (Power) A. Francis. The AKG Centre, State headquarters of the CPI(M), was filled with jubilant party workers and sympathisers as soon as the verdict became known. Party workers distributed sweets and raised slogans supporting Mr. Vijayan even as he addressed the media inside. Finally, Mr. Vijayan himself appeared before the enthusiastic party workers and accepted their greetings. Reacting to the court decision, a visibly relieved Mr. Vijayan said what he had gone through were days of severe turbulence during which people ranging from ‘a yellow journalist to great leaders’ as also a majority of the media had ganged up against him.