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Ex-minister Balakrishna Pillai sent to jail in graft case

Friday, 18 February 2011 - 5:56pm IST | Place: Kochi | Agency: PTI
The Kerala Congress leader is the first former state minister to undergo a jail term in a corruption case.

Kerala Congress leader and former minister R Balakrishna Pillai was today sent to central jail in the capital, a week after the Supreme Court sentenced him to one year imprisonment in a corruption case.    

Along with 76-year-old Pillai, a long-time legislator and former Lok Sabha member, contractor PK Sajeevan was also sent to the jail, following their conviction by the apex Court after a 20-year-old legal battle.
    
Pillai is the first former state minister to undergo a jail term in a corruption case.
    
With their options running out, Pillai and Sajeevan surrendered this morning before the special court in Kochi, which tried the case, responding to the court's orders to either surrender or face arrest.
    
Police, however, did not execute the arrest warrant against the second accused and former Kerala State Electricity Board chairman Ramabhadran Nair, 81, at his home in Thiruvananthapuram as he was in dementia.
    
Though a police officer was sent to Nair's house with the warrant, he returned without arresting him after taking the doctor's statement on his health condition. The report in this regard will be submitted in court tomorrow.
    
The court rejected Pillai's plea for A-class facilities in prison, but ordered that he be ensured proper medical aid.
    
The Supreme Court had sentenced Pillai and two others to one year Rigorous Imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs10,000 in its February 10 order, reversing the high court verdict acquitting them.
    
According to the prosecution, the accused conspired in awarding the contract for construction of tunnel and surge shaft of the Edmalayar Hydro Electric Project in the 1980s, causing Rs two crore loss to the state exchequer.
    
The legal battle in the Apex Court against Pillai was waged by Kerala chief minister and CPI-M veteran VS Achuthanandan, seeking reversal of the Kerala high court order which had quashed the trial court order punishing them.
    
A politician who has courted controversies all through his career, Pillai had stated he would face punishment. He turned up at the court accompanied by his supporters and son KB Ganesh Kumar, a cine actor-turned-politician and MLA.
    
He headed the Kerala Congress faction known by his name, which is a partner in the Congress-led UDF.
    
A founder leader of Kerala Congress, formed in the 1960s by some Congress leaders with the blessings of Nair Service Society and the church, Pillai had served as minister in UDF ministries, holding charges of electricity and transport.


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