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DMK minister’s discharge in corruption case set aside by Madras High Court

Asking the court to recommence the trial and conduct daily proceedings, justice Venkatesh said the trial judge can also remand the accused persons, including the minister, if they adopted any dilatory tactics.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 08:30 IST

Chennai: In a serious setback to the ruling DMK, the Madras High Court on Monday set aside a trial court order discharging Rural Development Minister I Periyasamy from a corruption case registered in 2012 for alleged irregular allotment of a plot to the personal security officer of former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh, who took suo motu cognizance of the March 2023 order by the Additional Special Court for cases against MP/MLAs, directed the minister and two others to stand trial in the case registered by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption (DVAC) under the then AIADMK regime.

Asking the court to recommence the trial and conduct daily proceedings, justice Venkatesh said the trial judge can also remand the accused persons, including the minister, if they adopted any dilatory tactics. The judge also directed the trial court to submit periodic reports on the progress of trial against Periyasamy to the Registrar General of the High Court.

In his order, justice Venkatesh also asked Periyasamy to appear before the trial court on March 28 and furnish a bond for Rs 1 lakh, while directing the court to complete the trial by July 31.

Periyasamy, placed 4th in the pecking order of Chief Minister M K Stalin’s cabinet, is a senior DMK leader. The High Court’s verdict is a setback to Periyasamy and the DMK dispensation as it comes just months after the then Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy was disqualified as an MLA following his conviction in a disproportionate assets (DA) case.

DMK’s problems are far from over as justice Venkatesh has taken up suo motu discharge of Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu and Revenue Minister K K S S R Ramachandran from DA cases filed against them in 2012 and 2011 respectively. He is also hearing a suo motu case against discharge of Ponmudy from another DA case.

All four – Periyasamy, Ponmudy, Thennarasu, and Ramachandran, were discharged from cases by various trial courts after the DMK came to power in May 2021. While taking up the suo motu cases, justice Venkatesh had said a Constitutional court “cannot shut its eyes when criminal justice system is subverted.”

The case against Periyasamy relates to allotment of a high-income group plot owned by Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) to Ganesan, Karunanidhi’s PSO, in 2008 when he was Housing Minister in the DMK government.

After the DVAC filed the case in 2011, then Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal had granted sanction for prosecuting Periyasamy, who challenged the decision saying only the Governor was the competent authority to grant permission.

Following the trial court dismissed his petition which was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court, the minister filed a fresh discharge petition before the court in February 2023, following which he was let off the case the next month.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 08:30 IST)

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