The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear the CBI’s appeal challenging the Kerala High Court’s 2017 order upholding Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s discharge in the multi-crore SNC-Lavalin graft case.
The plea, along with petitions by some of the other accused challenging the HC direction asking them to face trial, has been listed before a bench headed by Justice U U Lalit.
Petitions arising out of the SNC-Lavalin case, filed in 2017, were initially listed before a bench headed by the then Chief Justice. Later, the CBI also filed an appeal and all matters came to be listed before a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana.
On August 31 this year, they were listed before a bench headed by Justice Lalit, which however sent it back to the Justice Ramana bench.
On November 5, 2013, a designated CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram had discharged Vijayan and six other accused in the case. The CBI then approached the HC, which upheld the discharge of Vijayan and two others.
However, the HC set aside the discharge of three other accused and directed that the case against them be revived in the trial court.
The case relates to the award of contracts for renovation and modernisation of three hydro-electric projects in Kerala between 1995 and 1997, when Vijayan was the state electricity minister. The MoU between the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Canadian company was signed on August 10, 1995.
Subsequently, an audit by the Principal Accountant General of Audit in Kerala pegged losses to the exchequer due to the deal at over Rs 350 crore.
The CBI had alleged that Vijayan as electricity minister showed undue haste and interest in the execution of the supply contracts in February 1997. It claimed that KSEB executed the contract in haste at the instance of the minister, when SNC Lavalin offered grants for the construction of a cancer care hospital in Kannur.
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