Lavalin scam: SC to consider CBI`s plea for amicus curiae

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.

PTI



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

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