Former Minister S.P. Velumani on Friday argued before the Madras High Court that the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government had dropped all proceedings against him in a case alleging irregularities in the award of corporation contracts and therefore the present Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) regime could not take a different stand.
Appearing before Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said that non-governmental organisation Arappor Iyakkam and DMK Rajya Sabha member R.S. Bharathi had moved the High Court in 2018 seeking a Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) probe into alleged irregularities in civil contracts awarded by the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation.
Passing interim orders on those petitions in 2019, a Bench led by Justice M. Sathyanarayanan (since retired) ordered a preliminary inquiry and specifically named Superintendent of Police R. Ponni to head the probe. 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 registration of a First Information Report (FIR).
The DVAC Director approved the report and forwarded it to the Vigilance Commissioner on January 13, 2020. The Commissioner too endorsed the report on January 18, 2020. Thereafter, on January 22, 2020, the government accepted the report and dropped all proceedings on the complaints against the Minister. “Now, merely because the government is changed, it can’t make any difference,” Mr. Rohatgi said.
He claimed that nothing remains to be adjudicated in the present petitions pending since 2018.
Not in agreement with him, advocate V. Suresh, representing Jayaram Venkatesan of Arappor Iyakkam, said the issue was not as simple as it was being projected before the court and that he would prefer to argue the case whenever physical hearing resumes since the issue involves reliance on voluminous documents.
Accepting his request, the judges adjourned the hearing of the two cases by four weeks.