Madras High Court sets aside conviction and sentence imposed on former Minister Selvaganapathy in 1995 cremation shed scam case

Justice G. Jayachandran sets aside the conviction imposed on IAS officer M. Sathyamurthy too, another IAS officer J.T. Acharyalu had died pending adjudication of his appeal since 2014

November 28, 2023 09:27 pm | Updated 09:27 pm IST - CHENNAI

Former Minister T.M. Selvaganapathy

Former Minister T.M. Selvaganapathy | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

The Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside the conviction and two-year sentence imposed on former Local Administration and Rural Development Minister T.M. Selvaganapathy and three others in 2014 in connection with the 1995 cremation shed construction scam case (erstwhile Jayalalithaa regime).

Justice G. Jayachandran allowed all their criminal appeals pending in the High Court since 2014. The judge also dismissed an appeal preferred by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2015 challenging their acquittal by the trial court from the charge of criminal conspiracy.

Apart from the former Minister, who is now in the DMK, the CBI had booked IAS officers J.T. Acharyalu (who died pending adjudication of his appeal) and M. Sathyamurthy too as accused in the case since they had served as Secretary and Director respectively in the Rural Development department between 1995 and 1996.

M. Krishnamurthy, the then Project Officer of Nagagapattinam District Rural Development Agency and T. Bharathi, owner of a private firm that supplies cement articles were the other accused who had been convicted by a special court for CBI cases on April 17, 2014.

They had been charged of having caused a wrongful loss to the tune of ₹23 lakh to the public exchequer and corresponding wrongful gain for themselves in erection of cremation sheds for the Scheduled Castes in Nagapattinam district under Jawahar Rozghar Yojana.

However, after analysing the evidence on record, Justice Jayachandran said, though it was the prosecution’s case that the cremation sheds were of substandard quality, the evidence relied upon by the CBI do now show how those sheds were not in accordance with the expected quality standards.

Further, “the assessment made after three years of their construction may be not accurate and cannot be a basis to hold that the State had incurred wrongful loss of entire money allotted for construction of the cremation sheds. When there is no proof for misconduct and wrongful loss to the State, the allegation of conspiracy has to fall automatically,” the judge concluded.

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