The Supreme Court of India on Friday adjourned to January the hearing of appeals in the SNC Lavalin case over dismissing charges against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The apex court adjourned the hearing after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, the counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), requested for it to be postponed. The case has reportedly reached the Supreme Court 20 times but has been adjourned time and again over the years. The CBI had submitted a detailed report about the case in the first week of October.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice UU Lalit had warned the CBI that they should bring evidence to substantiate their claim in order to start a probe against the Chief Minister as the trial court (Special Court CBI, Thiruvananthapuram) and the Kerala High Court already cleared him of any charges.
â€śYou know that two courts have concurrently said that these persons need not be tried. You will have to come up now with very strong arguments to say they should not be discharged,â€ť Justice Lalit had told SG Mehta, as reported by The Hindu.
In 1997, when Pinarayi Vijayan was electricity minister in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, there was an agreement between the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Canadian firm SNC Lavalin for the renovation of three hydel power projects in Kerala.
The proposed cost for the renovation of the projects was Rs 239.81 crore. However, the company completed the project two years later than the original timeline, causing a financial liability of Rs 69.83 crore. The equipment given by the firm was also defective. SNC Lavalin had also promised to mobilise Rs 98 crore for the construction of Malabar Cancer Centre, but only gave Rs 8.98 crore.
In 2007, the Assembly Subject Committee in 2001 found that the deal caused a huge loss to the government. In the same year, based on a Public Interest Litigation, the High Court handed over the case to the CBI. In 2008, the CBI submitted a report in HC with Pinarayi Vijayan as an accused in the case.