Early trial sought in Lavalin case

The Kerala High Court on Friday adjourned to next week the hearing on a petition filed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) State unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan seeking a directive to conduct an early trial in the SNC-Lavalin case.

When the petition came up for hearing before Justice C.T. Ravikumar, counsel for the CBI raised an objection to entertaining the petition and sought time to argue on the maintainability of the petition.

Mr. Vijayan had challenged the Thiruvananthapuram CBI Special Court order rejecting his pleas for splitting up the case and commencing trial at the earliest by excluding SNC-Lavalin, a Canada-based company, and its former vice-president Klaus Triendl, both arraigned as accused in the case.

Mr. Vijayan, who was also one of the accused, sought an early trial on the ground that even after more than three years of filing the charge-sheet, the CBI had not been able to secure the presence of the company and its former vice-president.

He alleged that the CBI was trying to delay the trial indefinitely “at the dictates of their political masters in the Central government” as the agency was convinced that the trial would end in the acquittal of the petitioner.

The CBI’s case was that the accused had hatched a criminal conspiracy among themselves and with the senior vice-president of SNC-Lavalin to award the contract to the Canadian company to renovate Pallivasal, Sengulam, and Panniar hydroelectric plants at a higher rate, thereby violating the law and causing a huge loss to the exchequer.