Kochi, March 15 (IANS) With the CBI taking the SNC-Lavalin case to the high court, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has roped in one of the country’s most expensive lawyers, Harish Salve, to defend him.
Salve will show up in the Kerala High Court on Friday, when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) brings 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 Kerala High Court against the exoneration and the hearing in the case began early this month.
On Friday, Salve is expected to defend Vijayan. The CBI has presented strong arguments which could play spoilsport for Vijayan.
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.