Lavalin scam: SC to consider CBI`s plea for amicus curiae
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 22:31
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine CBI's plea for appointing an amicus curiae (court officer) to represent the Kerala Governor in a multi-crore rupee corruption case allegedly involving senior CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan.

A bench of Justices R V Raveendran and R M Lodha posted the matter for further hearing to April second week after briefly hearing the arguments of attorney General G E Vahanvati appearing for CBI and Rajeev Dhawan for Kerala government.

Vahanvati sought appointment of an amicus curaie to assist Governor R S Gavai who cannot be made a party in the case due to the Constitutional immunity enjoyed by him.

Vijayan had filed an appeal in the apex court challenging the decision of the Governor to grant permission to CBI to prosecute him in the SNC Lavalin corruption case, even though the state government had advised him against any such move as the case, according to it, was politically motivated.

The CPI-M leader is facing prosecution for his alleged role in awarding a contract in 1997 for renovation and modernization of three hydro-power plants in the state to Canadian firm, SNC Lavalin, without any competitive bidding.

The government’s official auditor had later found that the award of the contract by Kerala State Electricity Board to the firm allegedly at the behest of the minister had resulted in a loss of Rs.3.5 billion to the exchequer.

The apex court had earlier said it would examine the larger issue as to whether the leader of a political party can influence the decision-making process of the government and whether a state Governor enjoys unlimited powers in such matters of sanction for prosecution.

"He is the general secretary of the party (CPI-M) controlling an entire party," the bench remarked while responding to an argument that Vijayan, being just a secretary of the party, cannot in any manner influence the state council of minister vis-a-vis sanction for prosecution. "We will examine all these issues," the apex court had remarked.

Though the council of ministers declined to grant sanction to CBI, Governor Gavai had subsequently granted the sanction under Article 163 (2) of the Constitution.

It was this decision which has been challenged by Vijayan.

The contract had allegedly been given to the Canadian firm ignoring a Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited report which had said the renovation of the three power plants could have been done at a cost of less than Rs. one billion.


First Published: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 22:31

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