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

Modi with Pinarayi

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

The lapse being referred to is the Rs 8 lakh helicopter bill sanctioned from the disaster relief fund by additional chief secretary PH Kurian after the chief minister's flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Thrissur on December 26 to attend a party district committee event.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has told his government to withdraw a controversial order under which money earmarked for Cyclone Ockhi disaster reliefs was to pay for a helicopter ride. In the government order itself, the name of the Private Secretary of the Chief Minister is mentioned.

Sources say the expenses for the search and rescue operations undertaken by the Navy and Coast Guard would work out to Rs 10 crore, which would also be met from the State Disaster response Fund.

However, he did not name anyone.

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the trial in the SNC Lavalin case until further orders and admitted the CBI to appeal against the discharge of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and two others from all criminal and corruption charges. These things happen normally.

"The government fund was utilised for a private objective", he said alleging the Chief Minister "has committed corruption to the tune of Rs eight Lakhs (cost incurred for the journey)".

In this context, Mr Vijayan's trip from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram and back, mixing party and official business, does not fall within an Ockhi emergency though the Disaster Act 2005 allows the extension of the emergency spell up to 60 days.

Stung by the media expose over the copter ride, courtesy Ockhi fund, Government sources cite the precedent of former chief minister Oommen Chandy using an IAF copter and travelling to Idukki to visit Cheeyappara area on August 6, 2013, where a landslide had occurred the previous day.

The BJP State General Secretary M T Ramesh wrote to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking to monitor the utilisation of Ockhi Relief Fund, a party release said.

The CBI said the High Court accused it of adopting a "pick and choose" policy in naming certain persons as accused.

The statement said the order for the payment was issued without the knowledge of the chief minister or the CMO. Pinarayi said when he came to know that the payment for his trip was paid from the disaster relief fund, he rang up the officer concerned and directed him to change it to public fund.

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