SNC Lavalin case: Supreme Court issues notice to Kerala CM Vijayan

CPI leader compares Pinarayi Vijayan to Modi, Trump

Ockhi fund spent for Kerala CM's travel for party meetings

A bench of Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer also stayed trial in the case pertaining to an agreement with Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin in 1997 to fix three generators, which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 266 crore to the exchequer.

The court issued notice to Vijayan after India's premier investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) approached it challenging his acquittal by the Kerala high court in the case.

A day after controversy erupted over diverting funds meant for Ockhi relief for his travel, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said there is nothing unusual about his helicopter trip.

The Kerala high court past year upheld a trial court's decision to discharge Vijayan and two others in the case. Vijayan along with other accused was acquitted by the Thiruvananthapuram special court earlier.

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As per the order, the cost of the journey was Rs.8 lakh. "We need to travel like this in future as well", he said.

Vijayan along with six others executives of the Kerala Electricity Board (KSEB) are accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy while he was serving as the electricity minister from May 1996 to October 1998. He also sought to turn the tables, saying a former chief minister had taken a helicopter ride to Idukki while in power and the expense was met from the disaster relief fund then. The total deal was worth Rs 374 crore and as per the contract sanctioned by the state cabinet, the company was supposed to provide a grant of Rs 98.30 crore to the Malabar Cancer Institute.

"It is natural the government pays the travel charges of the chief minister or ministers, whether the journey is by auto or helicopter". Political observers in Kerala claim that his alleged role in the SNC Lavalin scam is what had stalled his elevation to the Kerala chief minister's post in May 2006 when the Left Front won the state assembly polls. His stature within the Left Front, more specifically the CPI (M), has also seen a meteoric rise and he has consolidated his position as the undisputed leader of the Kerala faction of the party, along with Prakash Karat.

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