//Cabinet decides to hand over Lavalin case to CBI

Cabinet decides to hand over Lavalin case to CBI

Government removes VACB Director from his post

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Cabinet on Wednesday decided to entrust further investigation of the SNC Lavalin case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and remove the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) Upendra Verma from his post.

The Chief Minister told mediapersons after the Cabinet meeting that the Director had acted in an improper manner by filing an FIR in the case before the Vigilance Court, Thrissur, while the Bureau’s report awaited his orders.

Case background

(The Vigilance had on Tuesday filed a first information report (FIR) in the case relating to the deal between the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the SNC Lavalin of Canada on awarding the contract for the renovation and modernisation of Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects. No politician was implicated. The report filed by Vigilance Range SP (Kottayam) A.R. Pratapan before the Vigilance Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge Thrissur Barkathali lists seven former officials of the KSEB and Senior Vice-President of SNC Lavalin Klaus Trindel as accused in the case.) The Director’s action had put the Government in a fix.

Mr. Chandy said the Government faced the accusation that it was hand in glove with the Opposition in undermining the case. Credibility was important for a democratic Government. This was why the case was being referred to the CBI. The Government had reversed its decision not to have a discussion on the subject in the Assembly, sensing the suspicions of the people.

Government stance

He said that the Vigilance Director had the powers to file the FIR without his consent. However, it was not right for him to act in such a sensitive case while the Government was examining his report. As the case needed careful consideration, he had sought the advice of the Advocate General. A decision was pending.

He said the Government had a responsibility to clear all the doubts that the people had about the case. The FIR was filed in such a manner that the Government would not have an opportunity to explain matters. So, it changed its earlier stand that there was no need for a CBI inquiry.

He said that the Additional Director General of Police K. Sukumaran Nair would be posted as Director of the Bureau. Mr. Verma would be given posting as the Managing Director of the State Electronics Development Corporation.