HC orders notice to them in petitions to condone delay of 1,324 to 1,859 days

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has filed four criminal revision cases in the Madras High Court Bench here challenging the acquittal of former Ministers K.N. Nehru of Tiruchi, I. Periasamy of Dindigul, S. Raghupathy of Pudukottai, and former Madurai Mayor M. Kulanthaivelu from corruption cases registered against them between 2002 and 2004.

The cases were filed along with sub-applications urging the court to condone the delay of 1,324 to 1,859 days in preferring revision petitions. Taking up the condone delay petitions at the request of State Public Prosecutor I. Subramanian, Justice R.S. Ramanathan ordered notice to the four prime accused as well as some of their relatives, who had also been arrayed as accused, returnable by June 13.

In the case filed against Mr. Nehru, his wife N. Santha, brothers K.N. Ramajeyam (since dead), K.N. Ravichandran and K.N. Manivannan and their wives were also arrayed as accused. The allegation was that they had amassed Rs. 4.61 crore disproportionate to known sources of their income when Mr. Nehru served as the Minister for Food, Cooperation and Public Distribution between 1996 and 2001.

A Special Court for hearing cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act in Tiruchi had discharged them from the case on November 13, 2006. The then Deputy Superintendent of Police attached to the DVAC in Tiruchi obtained the lower court order and sought legal opinion from the Deputy Legal Advisor who opined that it was a fit case for filing revision in the High Court.

On January 24, 2007, the DVAC in Chennai sent a proposal with a recommendation to the government to file a revision petition. But the government decided that it was not a fit case for filing revision on the basis of the opinion given by the then Public Prosecutor. In the meantime, a private individual filed a revision petition in the High Court Bench. But it was dismissed on March 21, 2007, questioning his locus standi.

However, an appeal filed before the Supreme Court challenging the dismissal was still pending adjudication. After a change in the government in May last year, the DVAC conducted a review meeting with regard to filing a revision and obtained a positive reply from the incumbent Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan on February 15 to the effect that it was a fit case for filing revision.

“Hence the delay in filing the revision against the discharge of the accused is neither wilful nor wanton… Serious prejudice would be caused not only to the revision petitioner but also to the general public if the delay is not condoned. The lower court failed to consider the principles of discharging the accused in a disproportionate assets case,” the DVAC said and urged the court to condone the delay.

In so far as the revision petition against Mr. Periasamy was concerned, he was accused of amassing wealth to the tune of Rs. 18.17 lakh during his tenure as Minister for Rural Industries and Registration Department between 1996 and 2001. The revision had been filed only against him though two of his close friends were shown as accused before a lower court which discharged them on January 18, 2007.

Mr. Ragupathy, accused of accruing Rs. 1.42 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income during his tenure as Minister for Housing and Urban Development between 1992 and 1996, was discharged by a lower court in Pudukottai on April 11, 2007.

The fourth prime accused Kulanthaivelu and his wife K. Dhanalakshmi were also accused of impropriety during his tenure as Madurai Mayor between 1996 and 2001. They were discharged from the case by a Chief Judicial Magistrate here on April 30, 2008.