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SNC-Lavalin case: After two-decade-long legal battle, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan emerges unscathed

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday upheld the verdict of the 2013 verdict of the CBI special court acquitting Pinarayi Vijayan.

Published: 23rd August 2017 03:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2017 03:10 PM   |  A+A-

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File | PTI)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a verdict that could have shifted the political fortunes of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had it gone against him, the 73-year-old CPM strongman escaped unhurt in the long legal battle over charges of alleged corruption in the SNC Lavalin case. The Kerala High Court on Wednesday upheld the verdict of the 2013 verdict of the CBI special court acquitting him.

The more than two-decade-old corruption case had cast a shadow over the Communist Party and Pinarayi for long. The 1996 consultancy deal with SNC Lavalin has often come to haunt Vijayan – who was CPM’s longest serving state secretary - at many crucial junctures in his political career. Throughout the legal and political battle, the CPM, except for veteran VS Achuthanandan, has stood with Pinarayi.

The CPM had always maintained that the charges were politically motivated and would be fought legally and politically. That 93-year-old VS Achuthanandan too has given up his once-relentless fight against his bete noire after the 2013 CBI court verdict.

Controversies surrounding the Rs 374 crore scam had often lead to nasty factional feuds within the party leading to the temporary ouster of Pinarayi as well as Achuthanandan from the Polit Bureau. Though Pinarayi later came back, it led to Achuthanandan’s exit from the PB. It was in January 2016 when the party was about to project Vijayan as its chief ministerial candidate in the 2016 assembly polls that the then UDF government chose to move the High Court seeking an early disposal of the revision petition.

Soon the High Court issued its nod for an early hearing. However, it didn’t deter the CPM from making the long-awaited decision of choosing Pinarayi over nonagenarian VS Achuthanandan to lead the left front in the state.

The hearing in the case was completed a few months ago. Determined to fight Pinarayi had even brought senior counsel Harish Salve to defend him before the High Court. With the hearing in the Lavalin case going on even while he assumed office as the Chief Minister in May 2016, the High Court verdict has always been a major concern for the Pinarayi and the CPM leadership.

With back-to-back set backs in various courts, the state government and the party leadership were on the edge. Only now can they heave a sigh of relief.

 



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