Kerala ex-minister RB Pillai sent to jail in graft case

Former state Power Minister and Kerala Congress (B)leader R Balakrishna Pillai and contractor P K Sajeevan were on Friday sent to the central prison in the state capital in a corruption case.

Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: Former state Power
Minister and Kerala Congress (B)leader R Balakrishna Pillai
and contractor P K Sajeevan were on Friday sent to the central
prison in the state capital in a corruption case, a week after
they were sentenced to one-year imprisonment by the Supreme
Court marking the culmination of legal battles lasting over
20 years.

A long-time legislator and former Lok Sabha member for a
short stint, Pillai was the first former minister in Kerala to
undergo jail term in a corruption case.
The police, however did not execute arrest warrant against
the second accused in the case and former Kerala Sate
Electricity Board (KESB) chairman Ramabhadran Nair,81, as he
was laid up at his home in Thiruvananthapuram in a state of

With the options before him running out, 76-year-old Pillai
and Sajeevan surrendered before the special court in Kochi
which tried the case this morning, responding to the orders
issued against them to either surrender or face arrest.

The court rejected Pillai`s plea for "A-class" facilities
in the prison but ordered that he should be ensured proper
medical assistance.

The Supreme Court sentenced Pillai and the two others for
one year rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000
in its order on February 10, reversing the High Court verdict
acquitting them.

According to the prosecution, the accused conspired in
awarding the contract for construction of tunnel and surge
shaft of the Edmalayar Hydro Electric Project in 1980s,
causing Rs 2 crore loss to the state exchequer.
The legal battle in the apex court against Pillai was waged
by Kerala Chief Minister and CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan
seeking reversal of the Kerala High Court order reversing the
trial court order punishing them.

Reacting to the conviction of Pillai, Achuthanandan said
his stand had been vindicated and the apex court order was
a warning to those looting the public wealth.

Though a police officer was sent to Ramabhadran Nair`s house
in Thiruvananthapuram with the warrant, the official returned
without arresting him after taking the doctor`s statement on
his health condition. The report in this regard would be
submitted in the court tomorrow.

A politician who has courted controversies all through his
career, soon after the apex court pronounced the verdict
Pillai made it clear that he would face the punishment.

He set out from his home in Kottarakkara in Kollam district
last evening with several supporters and had stop-over at
the headquarters of Nair Service Society (NSS)at Perunna in
Kottayam district, where he was received by the leaders of
the community organization.

Beaides heading the Kerala Congress faction known by his
name, which is a partner in the Congress-led UDF, Pillai was
also a member of the top forum of the NSS.

He turned up at the court accompanied by his supporters and
his son K B Ganesh Kumar, an cine actor-turned-politician and

Born in an affluent family, Pillai plunged into politics
while a college student and was elected to the Kerala assembly
when he was 25.

A founder leader of the Kerala Congress, formed in 1960s
by some of the Congress leaders with the blessings of the
NSS and the Christian Church, Pillai had served as minister
many of the UDF cabinets holding charges of electricity and
In 1985, he had to resign from the UDF ministry headed by
late K Karunakaran following his controversial "Punjab Model"
speech in which he said people of Kerala would have to wage
powerful campaign against the Centre`s neglect of its

As the Kerala Congress went through splits and re-unions,
Pillai formed his own outfit in 1989, which led to the
disqualification of his assembly membership under the
anti-defection law.

In 2001, he returned to the assembly but could not become
minister as he was facing prosecution in the Edmalayalar case
and berth in the coalition cabinet for this party was occupied
by his son.


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