The Supreme Court is likely to take up CBI’s appeal against the Kerala High Court order that upheld Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s discharge in the multi-crore SNC-Lavalin graft case in the week beginning September 21.
On Monday, the appeal, along with related pleas by some of the accused in the case, came up before a bench of Justices U U Lalit and Vineet Saran, which returned it to the bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, which had been hearing it so far.
Although the matter was being considered by the bench of Justice Ramana, it was on Monday listed before the bench led by Justice Lalit, which wondered how it had happened. Although the counsel appearing for Vijayan said he had no problem if the bench hears it, Justice Lalit observed it has to be heard by the other bench.
Appearing for CBI, Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan urged the court to give a date, following which the bench said it will be listed in the week starting September 21.
The CBI’s appeal challenges the Kerala HC’s August 2017 decision by which it upheld a trial court order discharging Vijayan in the case, which had set off a political storm in the state.
Vijayan had denied the allegations and maintained that the case was “politically motivated”.
The case relates to award of contracts for renovation and modernisation of three hydroelectricity projects to Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin in 1995, when Vijayan was the state electricity minister. An audit by the Principal Accountant General of Audit in Kerala later pegged the loss to the exchequer due to the deal at over Rs 350 crore.
On November 5, 2013, a CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram discharged Vijayan and six other accused. The CBI had then approached the HC, which upheld the discharge of Vijayan and two others. The HC set aside the discharge of three other accused and directed that the case against them be revived in trial court.