Madras High Court refuses to stay trial in corruption case against Minister Ponmudy

The Court dismissed a petition filed by the Minister’s son P. Gowthamasigamani, a co-accused in the case; the case relates to allegations of Mr. Ponmudy having abused his positions as Mines Minister between 2007 and 2011 for violating quarry licence conditions and causing a loss of over ₹28 crore to the exchequer

June 19, 2023 02:33 pm | Updated 06:44 pm IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy

Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy | Photo Credit: KARUNAKARAN M

The Madras High Court has refused to stay all further proceedings in a case pending against Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy before a special court, for having allegedly abused his position when he was Minister for Mines and Mineral Resources between 2007 and 2011 and obtained quarry licences in favour of his son, friends and relatives.

Justice G. Chandrasekharan dismissed a stay petition preferred by the Minister’s son P. Gowthamasigamani, who was the second accused in the case, pending before the Villupuram Principal Sessions Court, which is also the special court for trying cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

The petitioner had urged the High Court to quash the case in its entirety and stay all further proceedings before the special court until the disposal of the quash petition. However, the judge pointed out that the allegation against the petitioner and other accused was that they had quarried 2,64,644 lorry loads of excess red sand. The judge also took note that the prosecution had accused them of having blatantly violated the quarry licence conditions and thereby causing a loss of ₹28,36,40,600 to the public exchequer by not paying the seigniorage fee for the red sand excavated beyond the permissible limit.

”From the consideration of the materials produced in this case, there are materials available to form an opinion that there are grounds for presuming that petitioner has committed the offences alleged in the final report [charge sheet] and to frame appropriate charges,” the judge observed in his order.

He went on to state that there was also a bar under Section 19(3)(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for the granting of stays. “Thus, this court is of the considered view that the prayer for staying of further proceedings on the file of the special court cannot be entertained and thus, this petition is dismissed,” he concluded.

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