While admitting a petition by a former Minister challenging a Tamil Nadu G.O. appointing the Justice S.Thangaraj Commission of Inquiry, the Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed as not maintainable a PIL petition by DMK general secretary K.Anbazhagan against the government decision.
By a G.O. of June 22, the Tamil Nadu government appointed the Commission of Inquiry to enquire into all matters pertaining to the construction of the new Secretariat complex at the Omandurar Government Estate here by the earlier DMK government.
In his petition, former DMK Minister Thangam Thennarasu contended that the G.O. was a mala fide exercise of power issued with a political motive. The issue as to the alleged irregularities had already been prejudged in the order leaving no scope for the one-man Commission to independently consider the terms of reference. There was not even a single complaint or allegation of irregularities in the construction of the new Secretariat complex.
The petition was not in public interest and it was only on the ground that the petitioner was a person aggrieved and in the capacity of a sitting MLA had questioned the government order.
In its order, a Division Bench comprising Justices D.Murugesan and K.K.Sasidharan, said it found that the grounds raised in the writ petition were arguable and the petitioner had made out a case for admission of the petition. The petitioner's grievance could be looked into after affording an opportunity to the respondents to controvert the challenge. The court admitted the petition and ordered notice to the Chief Secretary and the Public Secretary returnable in two weeks. The Bench also admitted a petition filed by one S.Vijayalakshmi, an advocate, belonging to the India Against Corruption Movement. It said even though the challenge to the G.O. was on the ground that Justice S.Thangaraj was biased, for the present it was inclined to entertain the petition and admit the same. This was for the reason that the petitioner sought to challenge the G.O on the ground that it was arbitrary and mala fide. The petitioner's counsel Manikandan Vathan Chettiar contended that the G.O. presupposed that irregularities were conducted.
The Bench admitted the petition and ordered notice returnable in eight weeks.
As regards Mr.Anbazhagan's petition, the Bench said there was no element of public interest in it. The petitioner proceeded on the basis that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had a grudge against the DMK. In support of his claim, he had cited various instances alleging that she had acted with political vendetta against the DMK. The petitioner's grievances were personal and with party interest and not public interest.
As per the terms of reference, the Commission could only make recommendations to the government. The appointment of the Commission could not be questioned at this stage on the ground that it was an invasion of public interest, the court said.