The Kerala High Court on 15 January 2016 admitted a revision petition filed by the state government in the SNC Lavalin case, in which CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan was earlier exonerated by a special court. The Central Bureau of Investigation had named Vijayan as an accused in the case, charging that an agreement entered into in 1997 with Canadian company Lavalin when Vijayan was the power minister led to a loss of Rs.266 crore to the exchequer.
However, a CBI special court exonerated Vijayan in 2013. The Kerala government moved the high court, which has now fixed hearing for mid-February.
Though Vijayan’s counsel argued that the government plea was aimed at making political gains, the court made it clear it was not interested in politics. The court said it saw some substance in points raised by the Kerala government and has to have a re-look.
Reacting to the development, Culture Minister and senior Congress leader K.C. Joseph said he failed to understand why the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist was jittery.
“Now that the high court has admitted the petition, why can’t the CPI-M just wait till the court decides on the case’s merit. If Vijayan has done anything wrong, he will have to face the consequence, otherwise not,” Joseph said.
Senior CPI-M legislator Thomas Issac said the government had an eye on the coming assembly polls in the matter.
Former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan had taken a tough position in the Lavalin case during his term (2006-11), causing embarrassment to the CPI-M. The party national leadership subsequently dropped both from the politburo.
“We are waiting to hear from Achuthanandan as to what he has to say on today’s (Friday) development,” quipped Congress legislator Joseph Vazhaken.
Vijayan’s ongoing statewide ‘yatra’ ahead of the assembly polls will end in the state capital next month.