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CBI court summons Vijayan in graft case

Last updated on: June 23, 2009 15:28 IST

Two weeks after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a charge sheet against him, a special court in Kochi issued summons to Kerala Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary and former minister Pinarayi Vijayan and eight others in a graft case.

CBI Special Judge K P Jothindranath ordered the accused to appear before the court on September 24.He also ordered the CBI to conduct further investigation into the role of former Kerala Power minister G Karthikeyan and state Electricity Board member R Gopalakrishnan, who were excluded in the charge sheet filed on June 11.

"I order further investigation as no charge sheet had been filed against the persons described as accused in the final report on the ground that mens rea (intention or knowledge of wrongdoing) is lacking and evidence is not forthcoming," the judge said.

In the charge sheet, CBI had listed Vijayan as the seventh accused in the case relating to alleged corruption in awarding of contracts to Canadian firm SNC Lavalin for renovation of three hydel projects in 1998, when Vijayan was Power minister.

The charge sheet was filed after Kerala Governor R S Gavai gave sanction to prosecute Vijayan, overriding state cabinet's recommendation against it. Gavai's sanction had stirred up a controversy with ruling CPI-M describing it as "politically motivated". But striking a discordant note, Chief Minister and Vijayan's arch rival V S Achuthanandan virtually endorsed it, saying Governors had discretionary powers to sanction prosecution.

Vijayan has been charged with offences under Sections 120(b) (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of IPC and 13(2) and 13(1) of Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI's Chennai unit, which filed the 11-page charge sheet, has also submitted over 300 documents to the court. The names of two accused, former Kerala State Electricity Borad chairman R Rajagopal and former KSEB member M M Mathew Roy, who are no more, have been deleted from the charge sheet.

According to CBI, Vijayan as Electricity minister between 1996 and October 1998 "colluded" with others and "joined the criminal conspiracy" hatched during 1995 by R Sivadasan, a former chairman of the Board, and others in awarding the supply contracts to SNC Lavalin, causing a loss of about Rs 374.5 crore to the state exchequer. The case has accentuated the intra-party feud in the CPI-M with Achuthanandan coming under attack from loyalists of Vijayan both in the party and the cabinet for not coming to the rescue of his beleaguered colleague and "defying" the party line.

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