Harish Salve rubbishes CBI chargesheet in SNC Lavalin case

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Mr Vijayan's counsel concluded argument and a single bench posted the case to March 27 for CBI's argument.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (Photo: PTI)

Kochi: Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve, appearing for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in the SNC Lavalin case, rubbished the charge-sheet filed by the CBI. Mr Salve argued before the Kerala High Court on Friday that there was absolutely no material to suggest conspiracy in the charge-sheet filed against the Chief Minister.   Procedures followed in the execution of Lavalin contract was based on terms of international contracts. CBI manufactured the case by suppressing documents pertaining to execution of the contract, he told the High Court.   Mr Vijayan's counsel concluded argument and a single bench posted the case to March 27 for CBI's argument.

Mr Vijayan has not personally benefited in any manner from the deal, Mr Salve argued. However, the CBI had adopted a different yardstick in the case of Mr Vijayan. It's a 'fancy sounding' charge-sheet, Mr Salve added. His argument lasted for close to five hours. He submitted that in order to constitute either a conspiracy or dishonest intention on the part of Mr Vijayan, an active knowledge about the commission of offence and voluntary participation are necessary. Even if everything in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report in SNC Lavalin is correct, it could not be termed as corruption. Referring to the CBI charge, Mr Salve said that the CAG had found lapses in the deal with Lavalin.

The allegation that the project was undertaken without conducting any feasibility study was also wrong. KSEB had a long-standing good relationship with Lavalin in the past, and decided to execute the MoU. Lavalin was the Canadian government appointed engineering consultant for various projects by KSEB starting from 'Idukki-1' in the year 1940, Idukki-2 and Idukki enhancement and switch VAR projects, extension of Kuttiadi hydro electric projects as well as the consultants on the World Bank financed power projects and the tariff structure. Hence, the allegation that Mr Vijayan took extra effort and special interest for Lavalin is not fair.  

Mr Salve said that the then Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar, finance minister T. Shivadasa Menon and the then Chief Secretary also signed on the Cabinet note for approval of the contract. CBI adopted a pick and choose policy and framed Mr Vijayan. The electricity minister could not have finalised anything without the Chief Minister signing it. "If the CBI's case is believed, E.K. Nayanar should have been an accused in the case," Mr Salve submitted.   Vijayan's counsel pointed out to several contradictions in the charge-sheet. Mr Vijayan only followed up the project planned by the previous UDF ministry. Mr Vijayan assumed charge of the power ministry during May, 1996 and demitted office on October 19, 1998. This was evident from the prosecution's document that when Mr Vijayan had assumed charge, the MoU was in force in its original validity period. MoU had been executed on August 10, 1995.

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