The State government on Monday informed the Madras High Court that it would revisit a probe into the alleged irregularities in the award of contracts by the Greater Chennai and Coimbatore corporations during the previous AIADMK regime.
“The State should spare no effort in getting to the bottom of the matter and in proceeding against those responsible for the irregularities,” the court observed following the submission.
Appearing before Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, Advocate-General R. Shunmugasundaram said the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) latest report highlighted that some contractors had quoted absurdly low rates.
The CAG’s report further stated that the injudicious analysis of tenders had resulted in undue benefit to the contractors.
Therefore, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC) would revisit the issue in the light of the CAG report and register an FIR if necessary, the A-G said.
He said there was a need to revisit the preliminary inquiry, already conducted by the DVAC during the AIADMK regime, since some officials had not been interrogated.
The submission was made during the hearing of cases filed by Arappor Iyakkam, a non-governmental organisation represented by its managing trustee Jayaram Venkatesan, and DMK MP R.S. Bharathi in 2018, insisting upon the registration of an FIR against the then Municipal Administration Minister, S.P. Velumani, and a host of Corporation officials for the alleged irregularities.
Pursuant to the filing of the two cases, another Division Bench of the High Court had, in 2019, specifically named Superintendent of Police R. Ponni to conduct a prelim inquiry. Accordingly, the officer conducted a preliminary inquiry and submitted an exhaustive report to then DVAC director on December 18, 2019, stating that no case had been made out for the registration of FIR.
The State government accepted the report on January 22, 2020, and dropped all further proceedings on the complaints against the Minister and others. Therefore, Mr. Velumani’s counsel V. Elangovan on Monday opposed the government’s move to revisit the whole issue and sought time to file his counter affidavit to an additional affidavit filed by the NGO on the basis of the CAG’s report.
After accepting a request made by the NGO’s counsel, V. Suresh, to take the additional counter affidavit on file, the judges granted time till October 20 for the State government to investigate the matter and take to task all those involved in the alleged irregularities. The former Minister was permitted to file his counter affidavit to the additional affidavit filed by the NGO.