Madras High Court Objects to New Probe against Edappadi Palaniswami Following Change in Government

Madras HC Law Insider

LI Network

Published on:19 July 2023 at 11:09 IST

The Madras High Court has expressed strong objection to the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to initiate a fresh probe against former Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) regarding alleged irregularities in awarding State highway tenders.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh pointed out that the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had already given EPS a clean chit in 2018. Thus, ordering a new investigation solely due to a change in the regime in 2021 was unwarranted.

The Court emphasized that there were no flaws in the previous probe conducted by the agency when the allegations first surfaced. It stated that the sole reason for the fresh investigation was the change in political power in 2021.

The judgment criticized the practice of political parties using the courts as arenas for playing political games. It highlighted that court orders on such matters often became topics of discussion in talk shows on television but ultimately resulted in nothing substantial.

Consequently, the High Court dismissed a petition filed in 2018 by DMK member RS Bharathi, which sought a DVAC probe against EPS. The Court observed that the DVAC had reversed its stance solely due to the change in government, without any reference to the earlier preliminary inquiry report’s non-compliance with the law or the emergence of new evidence.

Bharathi’s petition in 2018 alleged that EPS had awarded contracts for the construction and maintenance of State highways to individuals related to him, resulting in a loss of approximately ₹4,800 crore to the State exchequer.

In response to Bharathi’s petition, a single-judge of the High Court had directed the DVAC to transfer its ongoing probe into the allegations to the Central Bureau of Investigation. However, following appeals by the DVAC and EPS, the Supreme Court overturned the single-judge’s order and instructed the High Court to reevaluate the matter.

During the fresh hearing, the State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah informed the Court that the DVAC’s previous preliminary report had been rejected by the Vigilance Commissioner, leading to a new inquiry.

On July 6 of this year, Bharathi sought permission to withdraw his petition, considering the Commissioner’s decision to order a fresh inquiry. However, EPS’ counsel opposed the request, stating that Bharathi should not be allowed to change his stance at his convenience.

The Court noted that the DVAC had already addressed all allegations against EPS and cleared him of charges due to a lack of evidence. Nevertheless, the DMK government ordered a new preliminary inquiry without providing any reasons other than its assumption of power.

Consequently, the Court dismissed the petition

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