Madras High Court takes up suo motu revision against discharge of two more T.N. Ministers from disproportionate assets case

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh takes exception to discharge of Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran and Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu days after he took up a similar suo motu revision against acquittal of Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy from a corruption case 

Updated - August 25, 2023 04:31 pm IST

Published - August 22, 2023 10:55 pm IST - CHENNAI

Revenue Minister K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran. File photo

Revenue Minister K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran. File photo | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Days after taking suo motu revision against Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy’s acquittal from a disproportionate assets case, the Madras High Court has taken up suo motu revision against the discharge of Revenue Minister K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran and Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu, too, from disproportionate assets cases against them.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh is slated to hear the two new petitions on Wednesday. Principal Sessions Court for Virudhunagar district in Srivilliputtur had discharged the Ministers on the basis of further investigation taken up by Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in September 2021 and the filing of supplementary final reports, giving them a clean chit, in October 2022.

A comparison between the contents of the charge sheet filed against KKSSR Ramachandran and the supplementary final report filed by DVAC in 2022.

A comparison between the contents of the charge sheet filed against KKSSR Ramachandran and the supplementary final report filed by DVAC in 2022.

Ramachandran case

The DVAC had initially registered the case against Mr. Ramachandran, his wife R. Adhilakshmi and friend K.S.P. Shanmugamoorthy on December 20, 2011, under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). The charge was that they were in possession of ₹44.59 lakh disproportionate to their known sources of income during the check period between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2010, when the Minister held the Health and Backward Classes portfolios.

The investigation was completed within eight months and a charge sheet was filed against them before a special court for PCA cases in Madurai on September 5, 2012. Thereafter, the case was transferred to the Srivilliputtur Chief Judicial Magistrate in 2014 for administrative reasons, and further to the Principal Sessions Court after it was designated as a special court for hearing cases against MPs and MLAs in April 2019.

Pursuant to the transfer, all three accused filed individual petitions in 2019, seeking discharge from the case. In September 2021, the investigating officer (IO) decided to conduct further investigation on the ground that the previous IO had failed to look into certain facts and documents mentioned in the discharge petitions and subsequently, a closure report was filed in the court in October 2022, stating no criminal misconduct had been committed by the accused.

In the supplementary report, The IO claimed that the assets and pecuniary resources of the Minister and his wife at the beginning of the check period was actually ₹1.01 crore and not ₹95.53 lakh as it had been stated by the previous IO in the 2012 charge sheet. The officer claimed that the assets and pecuniary resources stood at ₹1.89 crore and not ₹1.92 crore at the end of the check period.

The IO further stated that the income of the Minister’s family was ₹2.07 crore and not ₹1.18 crore and that the likely expenditure was ₹1.18 crore and not ₹67.87 lakh during the check period. The supplementary report also claimed that the accused had acquired assets worth ₹87.93 lakh and not ₹94.88 lakh and they had saved ₹89.42 lakh and not ₹50.29 lakh as mentioned in the previous charge sheet.

It was concluded that the Minister’s family had excess savings of just ₹1.49 lakh and not disproportionate assets worth ₹44.59 lakh. Principal Sessions Judge V. Thilaham had accepted the closure report, filed along with supporting documents such as bank statements, on October 28, 2022, and discharged all three persons from the case on July 20, 2023.

A comparison of the contents of the charge sheet filed against Thangam Thennarasu in 2012 and the supplementary final report filed against him in 2022.

A comparison of the contents of the charge sheet filed against Thangam Thennarasu in 2012 and the supplementary final report filed against him in 2022.

Thennarasu case

The DVAC registered the case against Mr. Thennarasu and his wife T. Manimegalai on February 14, 2012. A charge sheet was filed on November 15, 2012, accusing them of having been in possession of ₹74.58 lakh, disproportionate to their known sources of income during the check period between May 15, 2006, and March 31, 2010, when Mr. Thennarasu had served as the Minister for School Education.

The case got transferred from a special court for PCA cases in Madurai to the Srivilliputtur CJM in 2014 and later to the Principal Sessions Court after it got designated as a special court for MP/MLA cases in 2019. The accused filed discharge petitions in 2019. Thereafter, the investigating officer took up further investigation in September 2021 and filed a supplementary report in October 2022.

The supplementary report stated that the Minister and his wife had assets and pecuniary resources worth ₹1.71 crore and not ₹1.81 crore, as claimed in the 2012 charge sheet, at the end of the check period. It said that their income during the check period was ₹2.39 crore and not ₹1.62 crore.

Further, claiming that their expenditure was ₹75.32 lakh and not ₹65.31 lakh, the new investigating officer stated that their likely savings during the check period could have been ₹1.63 crore and not ₹97.54 lakh as pointed out by the previous IO. Finally, the officer came to a conclusion that the accused had excess savings of just ₹1.54 lakh and not disproportionate assets worth ₹74.85 lakh as mentioned in the 2012 charge sheet.

Principal Sessions Judge M. Christopher had accepted the closure report filed by the DVAC along with supporting documents, including income tax returns, and discharged them from the case on December 12, 2022.

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