The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai on Tuesday permitted PRP Granites and PRP Exports, both under scanner in the multi-crore granite quarry scam in the district, to operate their bank accounts and draw money towards payment of salary to their employees and other statutory dues such as income tax, sales tax, service tax, electricity charges, bank loan instalments and vehicle insurance premium, besides contributions towards provident fund and Employees State Insurance Scheme.

Passing interim orders in a couple of writ appeals filed by the state government challenging a single judge’s order to permit the two companies to revive their business operations, a Division Bench comprising Justice K.N. Basha and Justice P. Devadass said that the police and revenue officials should allow the companies to withdraw the money only after verifying the veracity of the details submitted by them for the purpose of operating the bank accounts.

Earlier, during arguments, senior counsel R. Krishnamoorthy, appearing for the two private firms, said that the officials were bent upon defaming his clients by infusing misinformation in the media. Reacting to it, the judges advised Additional Advocate General K. Chellapandian to ask the officers not to give press briefings about the ongoing investigation. “You should not leak out everything. It would not be in the interest of justice,” Mr. Justice Basha said.

On his part, the AAG said that the officers had never conducted a press briefing on their own. Additional Government Pleader R. Vijay Khumar claimed that the two firms were making contrary statements with regard to their staff strength. Initially it was claimed to be about 10,000. However, in a recent letter to the officials, the companies had claimed that they had only 725 employees. There was a great deal of inconsistency in the information provided, he said.

Not wanting to give much importance to such discrepancies, Mr. Justice Basha said that it would not be difficult for the mighty state to find out the genuineness of the claims. Stating that the interim order permitting the companies to operate their bank accounts was only an interim measure, the judge said that the larger question of allowing them to commence their full fledged business operations would be decided on January 28 after hearing Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan.

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