Lavalin case reverberates in Kerala assembly

February 13th, 2009 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 13 (IANS) The budget session of the Kerala assembly began on a tumultuous note Friday as the SNC Lavalin corruption issue rocked the house, forcing Governor R.S. Gavai to cut his speech short.
As soon as Gavai began reading his government’s policies for the year, leader of opposition Oommen Chandy interrupted him and soon the entire opposition was on its feet.

The opposition shouted slogans and raised banners asking Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to take immediate action to prosecute Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in a 12-year-old graft case.

With the opposition continuing their protests, Gavai concluded his address in under 11 minutes and left the assembly.

Speaking to reporters later, Chandy said that he had told the governor that the protest was not against him.

“In the governor’s first address for this government in June 2006, their main objective was to fight against corruption. Today this government is the biggest protector of the corrupt. The government should take steps at the earliest to prosecute Vijayan,” Chandy said.

On Thursday the Kerala High Court gave the state government three months to decide whether to give the nod to prosecute Vijayan.

A division headed by Acting Chief Justice J.B. Koshy gave rulings on a bunch of petitions asking whether the state government’s permission is required to prosecute Vijayan.

The CBI last month wrote to Gavai asking for sanction to prosecute Vijayan and the governor forwarded it to the government.

The corruption case is a fall-out of the state electricity board’s Rs.3.75 billion deal with SNC Lavalin, a Canadian company, in the 1990s, for modernising three ageing hydro-electric plants. Vijayan was electricity minister at the time and had led the team that went to Montreal to conclude the deal.

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