They were accused of acquiring unexplained assets

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) on Tuesday got the Madras High Court’s nod to challenge the discharge of three former DMK Ministers and some of their family members from cases accusing them of acquiring unexplained assets during their tenure.

Justice T. Sudanthiram condoned the delay in the DVAC filing revision petitions against the orders of discharge, saying the totality of the circumstances compelled the court to hold that there was sufficient cause to do so. He also took note of the fact that the accused were in power at the time the government of the day decided not to file revision petitions against their discharge by special courts.

“There is a hue and cry among the public regarding corruption by public servants. It is the duty of the court to see that corrupt members do not escape from the clutches of law on mere technicalities. Of course, the court is aware that personal liberty is essential and a person should not be harassed and forced to undergo ordeal of trial; it is to be seen that the personal liberty and social justice are the two wheels which must run parallel and it is the duty of the court to protect public justice,” Mr.Justice Sudanthiram observed while allowing petitions by the DVAC.

Earlier, Special Courts at Vellore and Salem and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Cuddalore, had discharged the former Ministers, Duraimurugan, Veerapandi S.Arumugam (since deceased) and M.R.K. Panneerselvam from the ‘disproportionate wealth cases’ against them in February 2007, November 2006 and July 2007. There was a delay of 1,789 days, 1,896 days and 1,752 days in filing the revision petitions. Hence, the present applications by the DVAC, through the Special Public Prosecutor, M.K.Subramanian, seeking to condone the delay in filing the revision petitions.

The Advocate-General, A.Navaneethakrishnan, submitted that the DVAC felt that the orders of discharge were wrong and hence wanted to challenge them.

The main common ground for discharge appeared to be that sufficient opportunity was not given to the accused to explain the assets acquired in their names.

In his common order, Mr.Justice Sudanthiram said it was clear that the DVAC was interested in preferring revisions, but the (then DMK) government turned down the proposal stating that the cases were not fit for revision. During the relevant period, the three were Ministers. Though it was contended by the counsel for the three that the accused were Ministers of different departments and the decision was taken only by the Home Department, a doubt arose as to whether the government’s decision for not filing revisions could be fair and uninfluenced.

As submitted by the State, the government’s decision had not come to judicial scrutiny earlier. Therefore, the value of revisions is to be looked into at the time of entertaining the revisions. Though it was contended by the accused that the revision pleas were filed due to political ill-will, the fact could not be eschewed from consideration that the accused were in power and part of the government while deciding not to prefer revision, the Judge said.

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