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AG exonerates himself; crucial Cabinet meet today

AG exonerates himself; crucial Cabinet meet today

Author: VR Jayaraj
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 6, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/174136/AG-exonerates-himself;-crucial-Cabinet-meet-today.html

Even as opinions in the CPI(M) differed on taking up the legal advice provided by Kerala Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad not to permit the prosecution of CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin case at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, the AG sought on Tuesday to exonerate himself from the allegations of trying to save the CPI(M) leader.

Talking to the mediapersons in Kochi, Sudhakara Prasad said that he was under pressure from Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan to speed up the process for giving the legal opinion on the matter. He also said the CBI had been responsible for the delay as it had not cooperated with him in the matter.

The AG denied allegations that he had tried to save Pinarayi Vijayan in the multi-crore corruption case, in which he was ninth of the eleven accused. "I have done nothing wrong. I have not protected anybody with my report," Prasad said. The AG had submitted to the Cahief Minister's office Friday evening his letter in a sealed envelope containing his advice that there was no need to permit the prosecution of Pinarayi as the CBI had not solid evidences.

He said he had given the best legal opinion possible form the documents he had at hand. "I had not seen all the documents pertaining to the case. But I had seen enough documents to formulate my opinion," he argued. He had earlier admitted that he had not seen all the documents after reports came out that he skipped more than 12,000 pages of documents provided by the CBI.

Asked as to how such a highly confidential letter like his advice to the Cabinet got leaked into the media and political parties, he said the leak had not occurred from his office. He refused to say that the leak had occurred at the office of the Chief Minister but said he had informed Achuthanandan about his displeasure at the leak.

The AG also denied the allegation that the legal advice was delayed to ensure that problems did not occur to the CPI(M) during the election. He said that a letter written to him by Achuthanandan on April 29 he was asked to expedite the process as the time allotted for deciding on the issue of permitting Pinarayi's prosecution was coming to an end on May 11.

He said the Chief Minister had pointed out that the images of the Cabinet and that of the AG himself would take a beating if the Governor took a decision all by himself. "This was correct. This justified my action of filing my report (without waiting to examine the additional documents provided by the CBI)", he said.

Meanwhile, different opinion were there in the CPI(M) itself on whether the Cabinet should ratify the AG's recommendation at its meeting on Wednesday. While one section said this had to be done on Wednesday itself as any delay would invite further criticisms from the High Court, which had given time till May 11 to the Governor to decide whether Pinarayi could be prosecuted. This section also argued that this was the most appropriate time for ending the controversy as the LDF Ministers in the Cabinet might turn against the CPI(M) if it faced a humiliating defeat in the election, which could be known on May 16.

The issue was crucial as far as Achuthanandan himself was concerned because he had always wanted Pinarayi to face prosecution in the case but he had now been weakened by the new developments, driven entirely by the his enemies in the CPI(M). He was now in a dilemma as he would be seen as abetting corruption and going back on his words if he supported clearing Pinarayi's name while at the same time he could not oppose the party directive to support Vijayan as he had already failed in defending his position in Sunday's party secretariat meeting.

A strong feeling within a section of the official leadership of the CPI(M) was that the Cabinet should delay the matter further by getting an extension for the time to make its opinion known. This was not impossible as the High Court had while giving time till May 11 had said that more time could be granted if the Government felt so.

This section was of the opinion that the SNC Lavalin case had to be hushed up somehow by the CBI itself, right in Delhi because rejection of permission to prosecute Pinarayi would not end the threat of legal action against him.

Apart from charges under the sections of the Indian Penal Code, the CBI was also set to charge him with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. In this case, there was no need of any governmental clearance to interrogate him.

Therefore, the feeling was that the party must try to get the CBI hush up the case all by itself by influencing it in Delhi. This could be possible if the party and the Left got any representation in the Government or influential position after the elections were over.

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