Petition against Karat and other CPI(M) leaders dismissed

Kochi: Kerala High court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against 12 CPI(M) leaders, including General Secretary Prakash Karat, for allegedly making 'prejudicial' statements in a graft case in which Kerala party chief Pinarayi Vijayan is an accused.

Political parties are entitled to their views on political issues, Justice M Sashidharan Nambiar said, dismissing the petition by 'Crime magazine Editor' T P Nandakumar.

"Their statements do not tend to interfere in the administration of the justice. In a democratic system, all political parties can take such views," the court held.

Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura Chief Ministers-- V S Achuthanandan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Manik Sarkar respectively, politburo members S Ramachandran Pillai, Pinarayi Vijayan and state ministers-- Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Paloli Muhammedkutty, Thomas Issac, M A Baby, P K Sreemathi and P K Gurudasan are among CPI (M) leaders against whom contempt proceedings were sought to be initiated by the petitioner.

The CBI court had earlier dismissed the petition saying prima facie it was not maintainable.

The petitioner claimed that with CBI submitting the 'final report' in the SNC Lavalin case, the matter was still in court but Karat had discussed the issue in recent party forums and stating that Vijayan was innocent.

Such statements that a person accused and facing trial in a criminal case was not involved in corruption, interferes with the due course of justice, the petitioner had contended.

Persons holding constitutional positions who had taken oath to uphold the rule of law had also made similar statements, which would 'prejudice' the trial and the leaders were guilty of contempt of court, petitioner alleged.

CBI had submitted its final report against nine accused, including Vijayan and soon after, CPI(M) started taking the issue to the streets, petitioner said.

The case relates to alleged irregularities in awarding contracts to the Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin for renovating three hydro electric projects when Vijayan was Power Minister in 1998.

Bureau Report