The Supreme Court in the case Kasthuri Ranga Iyer v. State represented by Addl. Superintendent of Police CBI and Ors. observed wherein the appeal was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the discharge of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and certain officials in the SNC Lavalin case for final hearing on May 01, 2024.
The court in the case observed that the connected appeal which are filed by the accused officials who seek discharge in the case will also be heard along with the CBI’s appeal.
The bench comprising of Justice Surya Kant and Justice KV Viswanathan in the case observed and has adjourned the hearing after being informed by the that Advocates-on-Record of some of the respondents have been recently designated as Senior Advocates, necessitating the need for engaging other AoRs.
The counsel, Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Congress leader and former Kerala Opposition Leader VM Sudheeran, opposed adjournment wherein it is stated that the matter has been adjourned 30 times so far.
Further, it has been alleged by him that the CBI has lost interest in the matter and that most adjournments were at their instance. The counsel, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju submitted before the court that the CBI is taking the matter very seriously and said that they are ready to argue on any date fixed by the Court.
On the other hand, the counsel, Senior Advocate Ragenth Basant, appearing for another accused, submitted before the court that Sudheeran was not a party to the case and that his submissions are meant for ‘those outside the Court.’
Therefore, it has been informed by another lawyer to the bench that since Gaurav Agarwal, the Advocate-on-Record for one of the respondents, former Principal Secretary, Power K Mohanachandran, has been designated as a Senior Advocate, another AoR needed to be engaged. The bench in the case obserevd and has stated that it would post the said matter for final hearing and listed it in July 2024. Thus, it has been requested by ASG Raju for an earlier date, either in March or April.
Furtehr, the bench stated that it would require at least two consecutive hearing days for the matter and the same may not be available in March and April because of several holidays, which would make most days of these months miscellaneous case days. It then agreed to post the matter on May 1.
It has also been alleged by the investigation agency that the contract given to SNC Lavalin, the Canadian company for renovation and refurbishment of 3 hydro-electric projects in Kerala, when Vijayan was Minister of Power in 1996-1998 was marred by corruption. Thus, the contract in question resulted in a loss of Rs.86 crores.
The Special CBI Court at Thiruvananthapuram discharged Vijayan and a few other officials charge-sheeted in the case in November 2013.
The Kerala High Court in the case observed and has upheld the discharge of Vijayan and 2 former Kerala State Electricity Board, KSEB officials, but allowed the agency’s plea against the discharge of 4 others.
The Agency moved the Supreme Court in the year 2018 and the officials who are not discharged in the case – former KSEB Chief Account Officer K.G. Rajasekharan Nair, former KSEB Chairman R Sivadasan and former KSEB Chief Engineer Kasthuri Ranga Iyer- also approached the Supreme Court.
The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case granted the CBI’s appeal as well as petitions filed by Nair, Sivadasan, and Iyer.
Accordingly, the court listed the matter for further consideration on May 01, 2024.