Charges against Kerala CM false, Harish Salve tells HC


KOCHI: Harish Salve, a counsel for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC-Lavalin case, on Friday defended his client for over four hours in the Kerala High Court, giving point-to-point rebuttal to the charges levelled by the CBI.
In the SNC-Lavalin case, in which Vijayan is an accused, had got a huge relief when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in the state capital exonerated him and all others of the charges.
But later, the CBI approached the Kerala High Court against the exoneration, and the hearing in the case began earlier this month.
On his arrival in the city on Thursday, Salve spent considerable time with Vijayan discussing the case.
Vijayan decided to rope in Salve, regarded one of the top lawyers of the country, after the CBI decided to call former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai as a witness in the case.
The court room was crowded with lawyers, who came to hear what Salve had to say in the defence of Vijayan.
The case pertains to an agreement with Canadian company SNC-Lavalin in 1997, when Vijayan was the state Power Minister, to repair three generators, which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 266 crore to the exchequer.
Vijayan was arraigned by the CBI as the seventh accused in the case, leading to a political furore.
Salve said that the charges against Vijayan were all fabricated by the CBI.
He pointed out that SNC-Lavalin was an accredited agency of the Canadian government and hence there could not be any sort of conspiracy between them and Vijayan as alleged by the CBI.
Salve also pointed out that along with Vijayan, three others also had signed the agreement with Lavalin, but it was only Vijayan who was named as an accused.
The hearing is taking place in the court of Justice P Ubaid, and a final verdict on whether the CBI court ruling was right or wrong is likely soon.