Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Politics

SC adjourns hearing on CBI plea against discharge of Kerala CM, others in graft case

SC adjourns hearing on CBI plea against discharge of Kerala CM, others in graft case
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The apex court deferred the matter to April 6 after Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the CBI, sought adjournment in the matter

The Supreme Court on Feb. 23 adjourned the hearing on CBI’s plea against the discharge of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and two others in a graft case related to awarding of a contract to Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin when he was the Power Minister.

A Bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit deferred the matter to April 6 after Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the CBI, sought adjournment in the matter.

“I am engaged in a part heard matter in another court. Please have it next week,” the ASG said.

The Bench then posted the hearing to April 6.

The case pertains to allegations of corruption and causing a loss of ₹374.50 crore to the State Exchequer in awarding of a contract to SNC-Lavalin when Mr. Vijayan was the Power Minister in 1996.

The top court had earlier asked the CBI to come up with very strong grounds against the discharge of Mr. Vijayan and two others in the SNC Lavalin graft case.

The High Court and the lower court have held that they should not be tried in the matter.

The CBI said this was a cross-appeals matter filed in 2017 and it will file a comprehensive note giving the factual aspect of the matter.

On August 23, 2017, the Kerala High Court had upheld the discharge of Mr. Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin graft case, saying the CBI had “wrongly picked” him as prima facie there was no case against him. The High Court had also upheld the discharge of two others in the case while rejecting the CBI’s plea that their full-fledged trial was necessary to prove the conspiracy.

The High Court’s verdict had come in a revision petition filed by the CBI in 2014 challenging the discharge of Mr. Vijayan and five others in the case by a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram.

The CBI special court, Thiruvananthapuram, had in November 2013 discharged Mr. Vijayan and others.

The probe agency had filed the charge sheet in the case arguing that there was sufficient evidence to prove the charges against the accused.

The discharge by the special court was ‘illegal’, the CBI had stated in its revision petition.

The special judge had ruled that the CBI had failed to prove the charges of conspiracy and corruption levelled against Mr. Vijayan and other accused.

The CBI had argued before the High Court that a trial was must to prove the conspiracy in giving the contract to revamp the power projects to the Canadian firm when Mr. Vijayan was Power Minister in 1996.

Claiming that the conspiracy was hatched at different stages in awarding the contract, the CBI had assailed the lower court order discharging Mr. Vijayan and six others and said a full-fledged trial was necessary to prove the conspiracy.

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