Spelling trouble for Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam, the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to complete a preliminary probe “as expeditiously as possible” into a complaint lodged against him for allegedly amassing wealth above his known sources of income.
The complaint was lodged by DMK MP R.S. Bharathi in March on behalf of his party.
When the matter came up before Justice Jayachandran, Advocate General Vijay Narayan, who appeared on behalf of the State government, said as per a circular dated July 18, a preliminary inquiry had been ordered based on the information furnished by Mr. Bharathi.
Justice G. Jayachandran disposed of petitions filed by Mr. Bharathi and another one by an organisation named ‘Arappor Iyakkam’ represented by Jairam Venkatesh seeking a direction to the DVAC to probe the complaint.
”...the inquiry has to be completed as expeditiously as possible...,” the judge said.
“In so far as other petition by Arappor Iyakkam is concerned, the information furnished will be taken note of in the case of investigation,” he said.
In his petition, Mr. Bharathi alleged that the senior AIADMK leader had amassed wealth by abusing his power gained unlawfully and invested the same in companies and properties either in his name or that of his “benamis”.
He alleged that for this purpose, Mr. Panneerselvam made false declarations before the Income Tax authorities and election officials.
Alleging that the DVAC had not acted on his complaint till date, the petitioner said the High Court had made it clear that when a complaint was given against a public servant, the vigilance department had to look into it directly and that no prior sanction was needed.
Referring to the various lands owned by Mr. Panneerselvam, the petitioner alleged that in his election affidavit, the Deputy Chief minister had not disclosed details of the plots and the income earned from them, which had to be investigated.
Land valued at more than ₹140 crore was leased out to benamis of OPS, the petitioner alleged.
He also alleged that Mr. Panneerselvam’s son was a director in many companies and they had purchased several acres worth over ₹ 68 crore.
Mr. Bharathi sought a direction to the DVAC to register a case and investigate the complaint against the Deputy Chief Minister.
The court had earlier asked the anti-graft body to explain why no probe was initiated even three months after a complaint was lodged against Mr. Panneerselvam.
It also sought to know why a CBI probe should not be ordered into the allegations against the AIADMK leader.