Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday was acquitted of all charges by the Kerala High Court in the SNC-Lavalin case. Vijayan expressed his relief at being discharged saying, “The case was politically motivated. I am happy that truth has won.”
The High Court rejected the petition of the CBI and said that he cannot be held accountable for the loss to the exchequer, while also acquitting two others in the graft case. “The CBI wrongly picked and chose Pinarayi Vijayan without any material in the case,” Justice P Ubaid said. Senior Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve appeared on Vijayan’s behalf.
The Court also found no evidence against Vijayan as it pronounced its verdict in a revision petition filed by the CBI in 2014 which sought to challenge the release of the minister along with six others in the case.
Vijayan was accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy while he was serving as the electricity minister between May 1996 to October 1998. He along with others named in the case, were accused of awarding the contract for the renovation and modernisation of few hydroelectric projects to a Canada-based company SNC-Lavalin at exorbitant rates, thereby causing a loss of Rs 374.50 crores to the state. The case was heard in a CBI special court, Thiruvananthapuram, which had in November 2013 acquitted Vijayan and the rest.
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The contract was awarded for the renovation of the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar hydel power stations. Besides Vijayan, six others discharged in the case were senior executives of the Kerala State Electricity Board.
The charge sheet in the case was filed by CBI which had claimed that there was substantial evidence against the accused terming their release by the special court as ‘illegal’ in the revision petition. However, the judge in the special court had ruled that the CBI could not prove the charges.
Earlier this year in March, the CBI had insisted before the court that a full-fledged was necessary to prove the conspiracy charges.