HC directs DVAC SP to take over Velumani probe

Last Updated 18 October 2019, 15:11 IST

Taking into account concerns expressed by a petitioner on lack of progress in the investigation, the Madras High Court on Friday directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to take over the preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption in various contracts by state minister S P Velumani.

It also gave a final opportunity to the minister to file a counter affidavit on the matter with supporting documents.

A division bench of justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee was passing interim orders on petitions from NGO Arappoor Iyakkam and DMK organising secretary R S Bharathi seeking a probe against Velumani over alleged flouting of laws and corruption in awarding tenders for government projects and contracts.

Counsel for the NGO submitted that despite an extension of time granted for conducting the probe contemplated under the Prevention of Corruption Act, no progress was being made.

"... It appears to be to exonerate the minister and not to take the investigation (by officer in the DSP rank) to a logical conclusion at the possible earliest time...," the counsel said.

The court said in the light of the apprehension expressed by the counsel that the respondent was one of the senior ministers in the cabinet and the investigation being carried by an officer in the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, the preliminary inquiry would henceforth be carried on by DVAC SP Ponni.

The bench also directed the DVAC director to file the status report on the progress being made in the inquiry with supporting documents in a sealed cover for the court's perusal.

The bench said counsel for the minister had appeared on February 4 but despite lapse of about 8 months, no counter affidavit has been filed.

It further said it was giving a final chance to the counsel to file a counter-affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing to November 1.

The NGO had alleged that Velumani, the minister for municipal administration and rural development, indulged in brazen abuse of power, favouritism and gross breach of trust in the performance of his public and official duty.

(Published 18 October 2019, 15:11 IST)

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