The Supreme Court on Thursday awarded one-year rigorous imprisonment to former Kerala power minister and senior most member of the Opposition United Democratic Front R Balakrishnan Pillai in the Idamalayar dam corruption case. Two others -- Rajendran Nair, the then chief engineer of electricity and V K Sanjeevan, the contractor of the Idamalayar -- were also given the same sentence.
The division bench of the Kerala high court had earlier quashed a judgment of the special court that had sentenced Pillai and co-accused Sajeevan for five years. However, then Leader of the Opposition and present Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan moved SC against this appeal.
The apex court upheld the prosecution plea that Pillai, who formed the Kerala Congress (B), had entered into a criminal conspiracy that caused a loss of over Rs 2 crore to the Kerala State Electricity Board by awarding contracts for construction of a power tunnel and surge shaft of the Idamalayar hydro electricity power project to contractor Paulose (now deceased) at extraordinarily high rates.
This is for the first time in the history of the state that a former minister has been sentenced to jail by the apex court, Achuthanandan told mediapersons from his official residence in Thiruvananthapuram.
"I have been fighting for this verdict for the past two decades. There have been several personal attacks on me over this issue, but I continued to fight and the results are for all the see," the Kerala CM said.
"This case and the sentence Pillai is awarded is a clear reminder and warning to all those who steal and loot public money," he added.
Pillai, however, was shocked by the verdict. "This was quite unexpected. The verdict is the result of a witch-hunt conducted by Achuthanandan for the past two decades against me. The honourable high court had categorically stated that Achuthanandan doesn't even have the right to appeal in the SC against their verdict. The political situation and other factors have influenced the sentence," he said.
"However, there is nothing more the discuss. Every one should note that it was because of me that the Idamalayar project was completed because of which the power scenario of the country has also improved."