Madras High Court quashes corruption case FIR against Velumani with a rider

Court says the former Minister can be included as an accused in the final report if police gather material against him. It, however, refuses to quash another FIR against him in a disproportionate assets case. Bench says the DVAC had gathered prima facie evidence before registering the case

November 30, 2022 03:50 pm | Updated December 01, 2022 02:41 pm IST - CHENNAI

Former AIADMK Minister S.P. Velumani. File

Former AIADMK Minister S.P. Velumani. File | Photo Credit: RAJESH N

The Madras High Court on Wednesday quashed one First Information Report (FIR) registered against former Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani of the AIADMK in August 2021 for alleged irregularities in award of corporation contracts. However, the court added that he could be included as an accused in the final report if police gather material against him too, while continuing to investigate the case against the contractors and corporation officials.

A Division Bench of Justices P.N. Prakash and R.M.T. Teekaa Raman, however, refused to quash yet another FIR registered against him in March this year with regard to amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. They held that the 2021 FIR was primarily the result of colourable exercise of power after the DMK assumed power in the State, and that it had been registered without there being any  prima facie material against the former Minister.

The judges pointed out that Superintendent of Police B. Gangadhar of Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC) had not gathered any evidence to suspect that the contracts were awarded at the instance of then Minister. Yet, the present government had accepted his preliminary inquiry report and ordered registration of the FIR. Therefore, the case registered against him “is clearly an abuse of process,” the Bench said.

Authoring the verdict, Justice Prakash wrote: “There is a general perception that politicians are corrupt. To say since there is a perception that all politicians are corrupt, SPV (the former Minister) must also be presumed to be corrupt is a far-fetched thesis that simply does not appeal.”

Observing that court could not allow political parties in power to go on a witch-hunt against their political opponents using State machinery, the judges further said: “The fact that the police have danced to the tunes of the party in power is evident even in this case where Ms. Ponni (a DVAC SP during the tenure of AIADMK government) gave a report exonerating SPV in 2019, whereas Mr. Gangadhar has given a report implicating SPV in 2021.”

The judges also added a word of caution and clarified their stand, and said: “We are not for a moment saying that SPV is an angel. We are not here to give conduct certificate to anyone.”

The 2021 FIR, they added, was being quashed only with respect to the former Minister and not the other accused as Mr. Gangadhar had failed to gather materials linking him to the offence and also because of the sudden volte-face by the police on account of change of government.

The Bench also impressed upon the need to implement orders passed by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh’s case and insulate the police from political and executive interference.

While rejecting the former Minister’s plea to quash the FIR related to disproportionate assets too, the judges agreed with State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah that the DVAC had sufficient materials to proceed with this case.

The Bench said the DVAC had done their homework and collected discreet information apart from relying upon affidavits filed by the accused during the 2016 and 2021 elections to claim that he could not account for ₹58.23 crore.

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