The Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday dismissed anticipatory bail applications of Durai alias Dayanithi Alagiri, son of Union Minister M.K. Alagiri, and a few others allegedly involved in the multi-crore granite quarry scam in the district.
Justice T. Mathivanan refused to grant advance bail to most of the accused except a woman applicant Shanthi Selvaraj, wife of P.K. Selvaraj of Sindhu Granites, on the ground that there was little material available to prove her active involvement in the alleged crime.
The judge declined the petitioners’ plea following vehement objections raised by Advocate General A. Navaneethakrishnan as well as Supreme Court senior lawyer Ranjit Kumar engaged by the State to oppose the advance bail applications.
Filing a status report on the investigation conducted so far with respect to the case registered against Mr. Dayanithi, the counsel said that Olympus Granites, a company in which he was a Director, had indulged in illegal quarrying in Melur taluk since 2006.
He was accused of exploiting the mineral by encroaching upon lands belonging to the government as well as Tamil Nadu Minerals Limited (TAMIN), a State-run entity, situated adjacent to his leased lands, thereby causing a huge loss to the public exchequer.
One of the 18 teams constituted by Madurai Collector Anshul Mishra last month to inspect all the 175 granite quarries in the district found that Olympus Granites had quarried only 468.243 cubic metres from its lease lands but had transported 2,292.814 cubic metres.
Stating that the market value of multi-coloured granite was around Rs. 30,000 per cubic metre, the prosecution claimed that Olympus Granites had illegally gained Rs. 44 crore for which the seigniorage fee liable to be paid to the government was Rs.3.2 crore at the rate of Rs. 2,210 per cubic metre. The offence was committed with the active connivance of a few TAMIN officials and three of them — P. Manoharan, Senior Project Manager; C. Jawahar, Project Manager and N. Ragupathy, officer in-charge of Mining — had already confessed to the crime, claimed the prosecution. “The petitioner/accused (Mr. Dayanithi) is a politically influential person. Yet, the witnesses have come forward to expose the commission of offence following the change of (State) government and upon the confidence in steps taken by the government,” the status report read.
It also stated that there was every possibility of the accused intimidating witnesses and tampering with evidence if he was given the benefit of advance bail. The case could be taken to its logical conclusion only if the accused was subjected to custodial interrogation, it stressed.
On the defence taken by Mr. Dayanithi that he had resigned from the post of Director of the company on April 1, 2010, the Advocate General pointed out that a form supposedly submitted by him in this regard before the Registrar of Companies did not contain the date on which it was filed.
“He continues to be the Director of the company as per records maintained by the Commercial Tax office. Even otherwise, the commission of offence had taken place since 2006 and hence he has a clear role in the crime,” the Advocate General added.