A special CBI court on Thursday convicted the former AIADMK Minister and sitting DMK Rajya Sabha MP, T.M. Selvaganapathy, two retired IAS officers and two others in the cremation shed scam case probed by the CBI.
The court sentenced Mr. Selvaganapathy, the then Minister for Rural Development and Local Administration; J.T. Acharyulu, former Secretary, Rural Development; M. Sathyamurthy, former Director, Rural Development; M. Krishnamurthy, retired project officer; and T. Bharathi to two-year rigorous imprisonment and imposed a penalty of Rs. 25,000 on each of them.
Following the conviction, Mr. Selvaganapathy incurs instantaneous disqualification under the amended Representation of the People Act.
Pronouncing judgment, S. Malathy, IX Additional Special Judge for CBI cases, said: “The accused are expected to serve society by discharging their duties without fear and favour as they have taken such an oath while assuming office, and they have failed miserably to adhere to it by their criminal misconduct…”
Rejecting their plea for leniency, the judge observed: “The accused do not deserve [any] leniency in the sentence.”
The case was registered by the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch on May 2, 1997.
The agency alleged that Mr. Selvaganapathy and the others entered into a criminal conspiracy between 1995 and 1996 to commit a criminal misconduct and cheat the Government of India and the State government in the construction/erection of cremation sheds under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY).
It said they entrusted co-operative societies, including the Karungulam Cooperative Society, with the work on construction of 100 cremation sheds in 20 blocks of Nagapattinam district.
This was done despite the fact that construction of sheds was not a work identified under the JRY and should not be given to co-operative societies. The work was executed in a substandard manner through sub-contractors and it did not conform to the specifications. Thus they caused wrongful loss of Rs.23 lakh.
A. Arokiaraj, Special Officer, Karungulam Cooperative Society, who was also an accused, died during the course of the trial.