CBI court summons Pinarayi Vijayan, others in Lavalin scam


Kochi : A special court here Tuesday issued summons to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Kerala unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and eight other accused after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet in the Rs.374 crore (Rs.3.74 billion) scam in a deal with Canadian firm SNC Lavalin.

Support TwoCircles

All the accused have been summoned to appear before the special CBI court Sep 24. The special judge also ordered a fresh inquiry into the irregularities in the deal to determine the role of senior Congress legislator and former power minister G. Karthikeyan and a former employee of the Kerala State Electricity Board.

The CBI had mentioned in the charge sheet that though Karthikeyan initiated the deal with SNC Lavalin, the agency could not find any evidence against him.

Vijayan is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to the Canadian company for renovating three power plants when he was the state power minister in 1997.

The charges against Vijayan were filed in the special court after Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai early this month gave the go-ahead to the CBI to prosecute the CPI-M’s state secretary, which leads the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF).

All the accused have been charged with conspiracy and corruption.

The summons was expected to be issued three months ago. But as one of the accused is a Canadian employee of the firm and the firm itself is an accused, asking them to appear before the court required permission from the Canadian embassy in New Delhi, leading to delay.

The beleaguered CPI-M leadership welcomed the court’s order for a fresh inquiry against Karthikeyan.

“This (order for a) re-inquiry against Karthikeyan clearly shows what we have been saying – that this is a politically motivated case – is true,” former CPI-M legislator and party state committee member M.V. Jayarajan said.

“Now things are surfacing and the court would have found that the investigation was not fair and hence the re-inquiry. Slowly things would start tumbling out,” said Jayarajan.

But former power minister and senior Congress leader Kadavoor Sadasivan said Karthikeyan’s move to award a consultancy contract had come in 1995, two years before the irregularities took place.

“How can corruption take place in consultancy? If someone seeks only an advice from someone else, how can it be a corrupt deal? But the court is at liberty and I don’t have any comments on it,” said Sivadasan, who was the power minister in the A.K. Antony government (2001-04).

During the state assembly session Tuesday, a few treasury bench legislators mentioned the court order for a fresh inquiry and attacked the Congress party and Karthikeyan.

But former power minister Aryadan Mohammed of the Congress told reporters: “We all know what Karthikeyan’s role is. We will face the inquiry.”