SC dismisses Pillai`s review petition against conviction
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 18:41
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed former Kerala Power minister R Balakrishnan Pillai and another official P K Sajeev' petitions seeking bail and review of its judgement awarding one year rigorous imprisonment in the Idamalayar dam corruption case.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan also dismissed their application for hearing of the review petition in an open court instead of the usual practice of it being decided in the judges' chambers.

The apex court, however, posted for Thursday hearing of the review petition made by another convicted official Ramabhadran Nair.

The bench on February 10 had convicted the former minister and two others while reversing the acquittal order passed by the Kerala High Court.

The apex court had earlier upheld the prosecution plea that the former minister has entered into a criminal conspiracy that caused a loss of over Rs 2 crore to the Kerala State Electricity Board by awarding contracts for construction of a power tunnel and surge shaft of the Idamalayar hydro electricity power project to contractor Paulose (now deceased) at extra ordinarily high rates.

The apex court, upholding the appeal filed by the then Leader of the Opposition and present Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, said the High Court had committed a grave error by overlooking the clinching evidence marshalled by the prosecution and the conviction rightly awarded by the special court in Kerala.

The apex court also expressed concern that cases of corruption relating to political personalities have been dragging endlessly in the country and pointed that in the present case, though the scandal took place in 1982, the prosecution was launched only in 1991.

However, the convicted former minister sought to challenge the conviction through a fresh review petition questioning the locus standi of Achuthanandan in filing the appeal against the High Court's order.

The review petition contended that Achuthanandan, on whose petition the apex court had convicted them, has no locus standi to challenge the acquittal order passed by the High Court.

The petition, filed through counsel E M S Anam, said the crucial question was "whether it would be open to the leader of a political party to utilise a system for the purpose of prosecuting a leader of the ruling political party at that time for purely political gains."

It was further submitted that the core question to be decided by the Supreme Court was whether the Chief Minister of a state was entitled to continue an appeal preferred by him when he was Leader of the Opposition and to take a stand contrary to the stand taken by the state government which at that time did not deem it necessary to file the appeal.

The review petition also claimed the judgement of the apex court convicting them suffered from very serious errors as it did not state or specify the provisions or the statutes under which the accused were sentenced.

In all, there were 11 accused in the case. Eight of them were acquitted by a special court whereas Pillai and two others were sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment.

The High Court, however, on an appeal, had acquitted Pillai and two others of the charges. As the state did not file any appeal against the accused, Achutanandan, the then Leader of the Opposition, challenged the acquittal.

The Supreme Court while awarding the conviction also directed all trial courts in the country dealing with corruption cases to expeditiously dispose of the matters and asked high courts to monitor them and seek quarterly reports from them on disposal rates.


First Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011, 18:41

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