SC dismisses Pillai`s review petition against conviction

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 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.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 18:41

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