HEADLINES:
September 22 2019
Plaint against CM: SC stays High Court order
30 October 2018

Lower court had shifted probe to CBI

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a Madras High Court order transferring the probe into a complaint of corruption and nepotism against Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami to the Central Bureau of Investigation from the State’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC).

A Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued notice to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader R.S. Bharathi, who had filed the petition in the Madras High Court.

Chief Justice Gogoi questioned Mr. Bharathi, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, on his locus standi to file a petition in the High Court. Mr. Sibal said he was an elected representative of the people and did have locus standi.

Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram appeared for Mr. Palaniswami and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, along with advocate Yogesh Kanna, represented the DVAC.

The issue concerned the award of contracts by the State highways department. Chief Minister Palaniswami holds the portfolio.In its petition before the Supreme Court, the DVAC complained that the petitioner had not asked the High Court to transfer the investigation. The registration of complaint and investigation were done by the DVAC.

The petition said the DVAC had filed a probe report in a sealed cover before the High Court. However, the High Court did not even bother to open it and presumed that the report was perfunctory. It had passed the order to transfer the probe without even analysing the evidence and documents produced by the DVAC.

Open tender

The DVAC further argued that the bids for the highway contracts were awarded on the basis of an open tender as per the Tender Transparency Act.

The DVAC, in the course of the hearing in the High Court, had submitted that a preliminary inquiry conducted by it, on the basis of the petitioner’s complaint, did not reveal any cognisable offence. It had, therefore, submitted a negative report to the Vigilance Commissioner.

The High Court had expressed displeasure over this and observed that an independent agency should be made in charge for a fair and free investigation.

The High Court had directed the DVAC to hand over all records connected with the probe to the CBI and ordered the latter to hold a preliminary inquiry within three months.

 

 

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