The SNC Lavalin case that haunts Pinarayi: Timeline

Pinarayi Vijayan
The maintenance contract was awarded while Pinarayi was in Canada as the guest of SNC-Lavalin and had caused huge losses to the Kerala State Electricity Board: Photo | Manorama

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday pleaded before the Supreme Court that Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan should appear for trial in the SNC-Lavalin case, involving the award of contracts for the renovation of the three hydel power projects in the state.

The plea was made in a counter affidavit submitted before the apex court.

The CBI plea said no tweaks could happen in the contract without the knowledge of Pinarayi.

The contract, which was awarded while Pinarayi was in Canada as the guest of SNC-Lavalin, had caused huge losses to the Kerala State Electricity Board.

Here is a chronology of the events in the case:

July 27, 2018

In a counter affidavit filed in the supreme court, the CBI submitted that Pinarayi cannot be absolved of the charges ignoring the conspiracy angle in the SNC-Lavalin case and should face trial.

January 11, 2018

The Supreme Court issued notice to Pinarayi Vijayan and two other accused in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appeal challenging the Kerala High Court's order upholding their discharge in the SNC- Lavalin case. The (CBI) had submitted in the Supreme Court that the lower court endorsed the acquittal without looking into the conspiracy angle in the case.

August 23, 2017

The Kerala High Court rejects CBI petition in SNC-Lavalin case and acquits chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan of all charges.

March 27, 2017

The CBI submits in the High Court that there is enough evidence to show criminal conspiracy at all stages of awarding the contract to the SNC-Lavalin company, and trial was necessary to prove the involvement of all the accused.

January 19, 2016

The High Court expresses doubts over the sustainability of the CBI Court’s order discharging the seven accused, including Pinarayi Vijayan, from the SNC-Lavalin case.

January 13, 2016

The state government approaches the High Court seeking speedy hearing of the petition challenging the acquittal of the seven accused.

February 21, 2014

All the documents pertaining to the Lavalin case are being shifted to the High Court from the CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram.

February 18, 2014

The Oommen Chandy government submits in the High Court that the exchequer suffered a loss of Rs 266.25 crore as a result of awarding the contract for the renovation and modernization of the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects to SNC-Lavalin at an exorbitant cost.

February 4, 2014

Justice N. K Balakrishnan becomes the fourth judge in the High Court, who recused from hearing the case. The court shifts the case to the bench of justice K. Ramakrishnan.

January 31, 2014
In its revision petition filed in the High Court, the CBI contended that the special court did not take into account the huge financial loss incurred by the government and the state exchequer while discharging Pinarayi Vijayan and the other accused.

November 25, 2013

Crime magazine editor T. P. Nandakumar files an appeal in the High Court against the exoneration of Pinarayi and the other accused by the special court.

November 5, 2013

The CBI special court discharges Pinarayi and the six others from the case.

October 11, 2013

The special court observes that the charge sheet submitted by the agency was ‘incomplete’.

July 31, 2013

The CBI submits in the court that there is concrete evidence for Pinarayi’s role in the graft case.

July 17, 2013

The special court divides the trial charge sheet, removing SNC-Lavalin company and its vice-president Klaus Triendl. The court also orders an early trial for the seven other accused.

June 18, 2013

The High Court directs the CBI to start trial against Pinarayi and other accused and file separate charge sheet against the company and its vice-president, who failed to appear in the court despite several summons.

December 24, 2012

The CBI special court rejects Pinarayi’s plea seeking exclusion of SNC-Lavalin company and Klaus Triendl from trial.

September 10, 2012

The CBI submits in the court that Pinarayi had not personally benefited by the execution of the contract, and former power minister and speaker G. Karthikeyan had no role in the alleged irregularity in awarding the contract.

March 30, 2011

The Supreme Court dismisses the criminal revision petition filed by Pinarayi challenging the governor’s order to prosecute him.

April 23, 2010

The special court orders the CBI to investigate the Lavalin case relates to the alleged loss of Rs 86 crore to the public exchequer without fear or favor.

June 11, 2009

The agency files charge sheet against Pinarayi Vijayan, listing him as the seventh accused in the case. The SNC-Lavalin company is arraigned as the ninth accused. The other seven accused are, former principal secretary (power) K. Mohanachandran, KSEB former member (accounts) K.G. Rajasekharan Nair, KSEB former chairman R. Sivadasan, former chief engineer (generation) M. Kasthuriranga Iyer; KSEB former chairman Siddhartha Menon, SNC-Lavalin senior vice-president Klaus Triendl, and former joint secretary (power) A. Francis.

June 7, 2009

Governor gives the nod to prosecute CPM state secretary and politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan.

September 22, 2008

The CBI submits the case diary in the High Court.

September 18, 2008

The High Court, expressing dissatisfaction over tardy progress in the CBI investigation, instructs the agency to submit all files related to the case.

January 16, 2007

The High Court orders a CBI probe into the case.

January 2, 2007

The High Court directs the state government to submit all files and documents pertaining to the deal.

December 4, 2006

The V.S. Achuthanandan ministry decides not to hand over the case to the CBI.

November 16, 2006

The CBI turns down the order to take over the investigation.

July, 2006

The CBI finds prima facie evidence of non-compliance to various norms in its preliminary investigation report.

March 10, 2006

A Vigilance report makes remarks about the disappearance of files pertaining to former power minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s involvement in the deal. The SP, who investigated the case initially, goes on extended leave.

March 1, 2006

The Oommen Chandy ministry decides to hand over the case to the CBI. Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau director Upendra Verma was removed from the post for filing an FIR without consulting with the government.

February 28, 2006

The investigating agency submits its preliminary report at the special Vigilance court in which eight people, including three former chairmen of the electricity board and the vice-president of the SNC-Lavalin company, are named accused.

February 13, 2006

The Vigilance recommends arraignment of nine people, including the vice-president of SNC-Lavalin and senior officials of the state electricity board. The CAG report, which alleged that the Nayanar ministry showed unnecessary haste in awarding the contract, resulting in financial losses amounting to crores to the state government, is tabled in the assembly.

February 8, 2006

The Vigilance submits in the High Court that a CBI inquiry into the case is not required.

February 6, 2006

The report containing AG’s findings on the deal was submitted to the speaker for presenting it to the legislative assembly.

January 23, 2006

IG P. Vijayanad hands over the report submitted by the Vigilance SP to the Vigilance director.

January, 2006

The preliminary investigation report filed by Kottayam SP (Vigilance) A.R. Prathapan calls for a detailed probe into the deal as there was substantial evidence of irregularities.

July 2005

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) finds that the state exchequer incurred huge losses due to the unnecessary haste and serious deviation from prescribed procedures in awarding the Rs 374.50-crore contract to the Canadian company.

March 3, 1998

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, but the hospital received an amount of Rs 8.98 crore only.

January 25, 1998

The KSEB sanctions the final contract.

February 10, 1997

KSEB chairman Dr V. Rajagopal signs a supply contract with SNC-Lavalin company for the renovation of three power stations.

February 2, 1997

A committee headed by CPM leader E. Balanandan recommends against the proposal to fully replace the machineries at the three sites and suggests the procurement of only essential components by spending Rs 100.5 crore.

October, 1996

A high-level team led by power minister Pinarayi Vijayan travels to Canada and holds discussions with executives of SNC-Lavalin. The team puts forth a subsidiary proposal to provide a grant to the Malabar Cancer Centre as a precondition for awarding the contract. Consultancy agreements were later converted into fixed price contracts for the supply of machinery and technical services. Though the consultancy fee remained unchanged, an amount of Rs 149.15 crore was offered to procure machineries.

February 24, 1996

The board strikes a deal with the company for providing technical and supervisory support apart from financial assistance to implement the project. As per the contract, the company was told to ensure completion of the projects within three years. Consultancy charge is fixed as Rs 24.31 crore.

August 10, 1995

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) signs a memorandum of understanding with Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for the renovation and modernization of the Pallivasal, Sengulam, and Panniar hydroelectric projects.

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