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SNC-Lavalin case: Harish Salve rubbishes CBI charge sheet

SNC-Lavalin case: Harish Salve rubbishes CBI charge sheet

Kochi: Harish Salve, one of the country’s most expensive lawyers who was roped in by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to defend him in SNC-Lavalin case, on Friday s rubbish the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case.

“The agreement of the then Kerala government with the Canadian company was with good intentions. The CBI is trying to misrepresent that with made-up stories. It was the State government that reached in an agreement with SNC-Lavalin. The procedures related to that were not taken by Pinarayi Vijayan as a person. In addition, the agreement was not signed when Vijayan was the Power Minister. Besides, the CBI had not found out that the steps taken by G Karthikeyan were wrong,” Salve said in the High Court while appearing for the Chief Minister.

He also argued that the agreement was aimed at the development of the KSEB as the State was facing acute power shortage during 1994-96.

Salve showed up in the High Court on Friday as the CBI brought in former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai as a witness in the case.

In the SNC-Lavalin case, in which Vijayan was an accused, he got a huge relief when the local CBI court in the state capital exonerated him and all others in the case. But the CBI then approached the High Court against the exoneration and the hearing in the case began early this month.

The case pertains to an agreement with Canadian company SNC-Lavalin in 1997, when Vijayan was the state Power Minister, to repair three generators, which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 266 crore to the exchequer.

Vijayan was arraigned by the CBI as the seventh accused in the case, leading to a political furore.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist leadership, however, came to his defence then and said there was no reason for him to step down as the Secretary of the CPI(M)’s Kerala State Committee, as it was not a constitutional post. But now, Vijayan holds the post of Chief Minister.

Former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Vijayan had sparred in the open over this case when the former was the Chief Minister (2006-11) and on account of it, both were suspended from the party’s politburo.

While Vijayan was reinstated later, Achuthanandan was not.

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