The Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered posting in January next for hearing a petition challenging a CBI Special Court order discharging CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and other accused from the SNC-Lavalin case. When the petition was taken up, Justice Thomas P. Joseph said he was yet to go through the docket. Counsel for the CBI submitted that the agency would be filing a petition against the special court order soon. The court then observed that a petition filed by T.P. Nandakumar, editor, ‘Crime’, could be taken up along with the petition to be filed by the CBI after the Christmas vacation.
The petition came up before the new Judge after Justice K. Harilal recused himself from hearing the petition last time.
The CBI case was that Mr. Vijayan, while serving as Electricity Minister from May 1996 to October 1998, along with the other accused, had hatched a criminal conspiracy to award the contract for the renovation and modernisation of the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects to the Canadian company, SNC-Lavalin, at an exorbitant cost. The CBI further alleged that the KSEB had entered into the MoU without inviting tenders, violating all rules and regulations.
The special court while discharging Mr. Vijayan and other accused had held that the CBI was not able to prove that any of the accused gained pecuniary advantage while awarding the contract to the SNC-Lavalin. The charges levelled against the accused were groundless and all the accused were entitled to get a discharge, the court said.
In his petition, Mr. Nandakuamar contended that the special court had overemphasised the non-execution of an agreement in relation to the grant of money to the Malabar Cancer Centre to find reasons for discharging the accused. He said the special court was not expected to examine whether there was sufficient ground for conviction of the accused or whether the trial was sure to end in his conviction.