KERALA LAWYER


High Court of Kerala allows splitting of Lavalin case

Kerala High court today directed CBI to split the case relating to alleged irregularities in award of contract to a Canadian firm for renovation of hydel projects with regard to two accused and proceed trial against others, including CPI(M) state secretary, Pinarayi Vijayan.

The court said the case against the firm, SNC Lavalin and its former Vice-President Claus Trendl can be split.

Allowing the petition filed by Vijayan, a former state power minister, and P A Siddharta Menon, former State Electricity Board Chairman, for splitting the case for speedy trial, Justice C T Ravikumar said there was enough justification for doing it as sufficient time had been granted to serve summons to the two accused-- SNC Lavalin and Trendl.

Extradition request of Trendl was also made, the judge said.

The case relates to award of contract to the company for renovating three hydel projects in the state in 1996 when Vijayan was the power minister.

SNC Lavalin is the sixth accused in the case while former company Vice President Claus Trendl is the ninth accused.

The court affirmed that the accused have a right to speedy trial and it forms a part of right to life guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

CBI, which had opposed the splitting of the case, had submitted that summons to the company and Trendl issued by the special CBI court here had not been served and request of extradition of Trendl was yet to be considered by the Canadian government. Hence, it cannot be concluded that they are absconding.

The petitioners had complained that further delays in the trial will cause serious prejudice to them.

According to Vijayan, the case was hanging like a 'Damocles sword' on his head. Delay in the trial was causing serious hardships to him, he had submitted.

The award of the contract to Lavalin had allegedly caused a loss of over Rs 375 crore to the state exchequer.

[News item published in Business Standard]