T.N. Governor puts swearing-in of former DMK Minister Ponmudy on hold 

Raj Bhavan seeks legal opinion from experts on reinduction of DMK leader in the wake of SC stay on his conviction and jail term

March 13, 2024 08:40 pm | Updated March 14, 2024 10:51 am IST - CHENNAI

K. Ponmudy

K. Ponmudy

In yet another stand-off with the Tamil Nadu government, Governor R.N. Ravi has put on hold the proposed swearing-in of senior DMK leader and former Minister K. Ponmudy to re-induct him into the Cabinet

The former Higher Education Minister was disqualified as MLA after the Madras High Court sentenced him to three years in jail in a disproportionate assets case in December last year.

After the Supreme Court stayed his conviction and sentence on March 11, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had sought time from the Governor on Wednesday or Thursday for the swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Ponmudy, official sources said.

While it appeared that he was all set to rejoin the Tamil Nadu Cabinet, the sources said the swearing-in seemed unlikely this week.

Sources in the Raj Bhavan told The Hindu on Wednesday that the Governor was proceeding to Delhi on a three-day planned visit on Thursday. As regards the swearing-in of Mr. Ponmudy, Raj Bhavan has sought legal opinion from experts. 

The Governor has sought a clarification whether inducting Mr. Ponmudy into the Council of Ministers would be legally correct when his conviction and sentence has only been stayed in the interim, and not set aside by the top court. Parrying questions on more details on the issue, a Raj Bhavan official said the “matter was under consideration of the Governor.”

Sources in the Chennai Airport confirmed that Mr. Ravi was proceeding to Delhi in a scheduled commercial flight at 6.50 a.m. on Thursday. 

Following his conviction and sentencing in the disproportionate assets case in December, the higher education portfolio held by Mr. Ponmudy was reallocated to his Cabinet colleague, R.S. Rajakannappan. However, after the Supreme Court order, Assembly Speaker M. Appavu on Wednesday rescinded his earlier notification declaring the Thirukkoyilur Assembly constituency (held earlier by Mr. Ponmudy) vacant.

The March 13 notification published in the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette by the Assembly Speaker declared that his earlier notification, dated December 19, 2023 (declaring Thirukkoyilur Assembly constituency vacant), would cease to operate with effect from the same date, “in view of the interim order dated 11th March, 2024 of the Supreme Court of India in the Criminal Appeal No. 530-531 of 2024”.

The Speaker also pointed out that the Supreme Court had, in its interim order, suspended Mr. Ponmudy’s conviction in the case by the Madras High Court.

Mr. Ponmudy, who is also the DMK deputy general secretary and hails from Villupuram district, is considered the party’s strongman in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. He has held various portfolios in the State Cabinet under late leader M. Karunanidhi. Mr. Ponmudy’s son, Gautham Sigamani, is the Lok Sabha MP from Kallakurichi.

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