Madras High Court judge requested to recuse himself from hearing revision case against T.N. Minister Ponmudy’s acquittal in disproportionate assets case

The DVAC and Minister Ponmudy said it would be better if the suo motu revision petition, taken up by Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, could be heard by another judge since Justice Venkatesh had already made strong observations with regard to the case

September 07, 2023 04:55 pm | Updated 06:42 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy. File

Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy. File | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) as well as Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy on Thursday, September 7, 2023 requested Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court to recuse from hearing a suo motu revision petition taken up by him against the acquittal of the Minister and his family members from a disproportionate assets case.

Senior Counsel Sidharth Luthra, representing the DVAC, as well as Senior Counsel N.R. Elango, representing the Minister, told the judge that it would be appropriate for some other judge to hear the suo motu revision petition since Justice Venkatesh had already made certain strong observations in the order passed by him on August 10, while ordering notice.

After hearing the counsel, the judge said, a decision on their request would be taken by him on September 14.

In his submission, Mr. Luthra said, the judge had found fault with the High Court administration having transferred the disproportionate assets case from Villupuram to Vellore without giving an opportunity of hearing to the High Court administration. Mr. Luthra also said that the suo motu revision had been taken up by the High Court even before the expiry of the period within which the DVAC could file an appeal challenging the acquittal. When Justice Venkatesh interjected during the arguments and asked whether the DVAC had decided to file an appeal, the counsel replied: “We are processing it and examining it.”

On his part, Mr. Elango said that his client was not a party to the administrative orders passed by the High Court transferring the case from Villupuram to Vellore and therefore he would not be in a position to address arguments on those issues, unless he was served with copies of the materials which culminated in the transfer of the case from one district to another.

He also placed a request for listing the suo motu revision petition before some other judge of the High Court.

Justice Venkatesh had taken up the suo motu case on August 10, after finding that the High Court had transferred the trial from one district to another by way of administrative orders, though such transfer could be made only on the basis of judicial orders.

The judge had also found it curious for the Vellore Principal District Judge to have delivered a 226-page judgement acquitting all the accused persons on June 28, 2023 though the written submissions on behalf of them were filed only on June 23, 2023. It was also highlighted that the district judge had retired from service on June 30, 2023.

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