The Kerala High Court has given a clean chit to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, acquitting him of all charges, as per the latest TV reports. Harish Salve, Senior Advocate, represented Pinarayi Vijayan in the High Court. According to TV news reports, the judgment has over 100 pages and more details will be made available shortly.
”Truth has triumphed, justice has prevailed,” Kerala Minister G.Sudhakaran told media reporters immediately after the verdict.
CPI (M) Kerala Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told TV reporters,” It is the Chandy government that went after Pinarayi Vijayan and they had his name wrongly included in the SNC-Lavalin case. Now the Kerala High Court has given a clean chit to Pinarayi Vijayan and has even observed that CBI attempted to target him in a most unfair manner. That the CBI has wrongly targeted a leader of Pinarayi’s stature is most unfortunate and this has been noted specifically by the court. Now it is clear that the case itself was a fabricated one against Pinarayi Vijayan. We are a corruption-free political party and the intent of the CBI was to destroy the party’s corruption-free image. This verdict is a great win for Pinarayi Vijayan and the party. ”
The SNC-Lavalin case came under the radar after CAG’s report in 2009 which pointed out several irregularities in the deal. Harish Salve, who had represented Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan when the Lavalin case came up before the Kerala High Court in March 2017, rubbished CBI’s allegation of corruption and conspiracy in the SNC-Lavalin deal as a fabricated story. Salve also referred to the agreement with the Canadian company Lavalin as one that had been carried out with good intention at a crucial time when the state was reeling under a severe power crisis.x
The SNC-Lavalin case goes a long way back to the time when Pinarayi Vijayan was Power Minister in the state and he had signed with a Canadian company called SNC Lavalin in1997. The controversy grabbed headlines in 2005 when the CAG had pointed out several irregularities in the deal and that the funds promised for the Cancer Hospital in Malabar did not materialise. Further, CAG also reported a loss of Rs 347 to the state exchequer.
Following the controversy around the deal, the case was handed over to the CBI by the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government in 2006. The CBI case diary was submitted before the Kerala High Court in 2008 and the following year, the CBI filed a charge sheet against Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC-Lavalin case, in which he was listed as the seventh accused.