India's top court issues notice to Kerala chief minister in corruption case

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to Pinarayi Vijayan and two others over an appeal filed by the CBI in the SNC-Lavalin corruption case.

The court also sought the response of the investigation agency on pleas made by Mr. Iyer, Mr Nair and R. Sivadasan as to why they were not treated on a par with Mr. Vijayan and the two co-accused who were released from all charges in the case.

Realizing that more skeletons would tumble out of the cupboard, the CPM state secretariat on Thursday made a decision to validate the alleged misuse of public funds by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who opted to travel in a chartered helicopter for a party function, by citing precedents.

The three accused, who were asked to face trial, too moved the top court to challenge the High Court's order. Vijayan along with other accused was acquitted by the Thiruvananthapuram special court earlier.

The Supreme Court has ordered a stay on the trial of the accused in the SNC-Lavalin case.

"It is a matter of fact that there was ample material to prima facie show conspiracy in the matter, which may have been appreciated at the stage of trial only", it said. "Continuation of trial will be detrimental to us now", Rohatgi said on behalf of his client.

Vijayan served as Kerala's electricity minister from 1996 to 1998. The hospital, however, received an amount of Rs 8.98 crore. The total deal was worth Rs 374 crore and as per the contract sanctioned by the state cabinet, the company was supposed to provide a grant of Rs 98.30 crore to the Malabar Cancer Institute. Political observers in Kerala claim that his alleged role in the SNC Lavalin scam is what had stalled his elevation to the Kerala chief minister's post in May 2006 when the Left Front won the state assembly polls.

"It is natural the government pays the travel charges of the chief minister or ministers, whether the journey is by vehicle or helicopter".

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