Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

SC sends notice to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan in corruption case

SC sends notice to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan in corruption case

The Supreme Court on Thursday put on hold the trial in the SNC Lavalin case until further orders, and accepted the Central Bureau of Investigation's plea against discharging Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan from the corruption charges, The Hindu reported.

The three accused, who were asked to face trial, too moved the top court to challenge the High Court's order.

Realizing that more skeletons would tumble out of the cupboard, the CPM state secretariat on Thursday chose to validate the alleged misuse of public funds by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who opted to travel in a chartered helicopter for a party function, by citing precedents. Two others officials, K Mohanachandran and A Francis, were also discharged from the case.

The SC send the notice to the two based on a petition submitted by the CBI against the order of the HC. Vijayan along with other accused was acquitted by the Thiruvananthapuram special court earlier. The Bench has now asked the CBI to counter the submissions made by Nair and Iyer.

However, the Supreme Court today stayed the trial of the three fomer officials.

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"It is a matter of fact that there was ample material to prima facie show conspiracy in the matter, which may have been appreciated at the stage of trial only", it said.

On Monday, Kerala's disaster management department issued an order sanctioning Rs8 lakh from its coffers for the helicopter ride, which was strongly criticised by opposition leaders Ramesh Chennithala of the Congress and K.Surendran of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"We have not been discharged. We need to travel like this in future as well", he said.

Meanwhile, Pinarayi slammed the Central government, claiming that while the Centre allocated only '134 crore for Ockhi relief, the state could raise more or less the same amount from the public here. By the time work was completed, the costs had gone up to ₹374.5 crore. In 2007 the Kerala High Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the case. The Chief Minister and the CPI-M can not absolve themselves now and it was a "naked misuse of power", he alleged. The post eventually went to Vijayan's senior and bitter rival VS Achuthanandan despite the latter's advancing age. He also sought to turn the tables, saying a former chief minister had taken a helicopter ride to Idukki while in power and the expense was met from the disaster relief fund then.

The up and down journey expenses of Rs eight lakh was reimbursed from the Relief Fund. He also alleged that the CPI (M) led LDF government physically annihilated those who raise voices against it. It was Vijayan's "veto" that dashed the party's Bengal faction's effort of securing a third Rajya Sabha term for Sitaram Yechury previous year.

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