Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today denied before the Kerala High Court that there was any conspiracy in awarding a contract to a Canadian firm to revamp hydroelectric projects when he was power minister in 1996. The decision to award the contract to renovate the three power projects to SNC Lavalin was taken by the state Cabinet, said senior Supreme Court counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Vijayan before Justice P Ubaid. Salve made the submission during the resumed hearing of the CBI's review petition against a Thiruvananthapuram court's 2013 order discharging Vijayan and six others in a case of the alleged corruption in awarding the contract, causing a 'loss' of Rs 374.50 crore to the state exchequer. During the nearly four-hour long arguments, Salve said the original Memorandum of Understanding was signed during the previous UDF regime by erstwhile Electricity Minister G Karthikeyan in 1995. The CBI, however, did not arraign Karthikeyan as an accused, said Salve alleging that Vijayan was named as an accused under a conspiracy by the Congress-led UDF government. Lavalin had undertaken several other renovation projects and the CBI did never raise any doubt regarding the competency and integrity of the World Bank approved company, Salve said. Vijayan, who took charge as power minister in 1996, was not aware of the discussions and decisions taken prior to the assumption of the office by him and hence he cannot be held liable to the actions taken by the previous ministry, said Salve. He only continued with the project brought in by the UDF government, Salve contended. Stating that there were serious contradictions in the CBI chargesheet, he submitted that implicating Vijayan in the case alleging conspiracy was illegal. After hearing Salve, Justice Ubaid posted the case for further hearing on March 27.
'No conspiracy in awarding power projects to Canadian firm'
Press Trust of India |