It was a day filled with suspense for most Chennai reporters. Around noon news broke that Thandavarayapuram Ramaswami Pachamuthu, chairman of the powerful SRM group, had been arrested by the Central Crime Branch of the Chennai police.
But till around 8pm, there was no clarity as to where Pachamuthu was. Police sources claimed that he had been taken for a medical checkup at the Royapettah General hospital and later to the Rajiv Gandhi General Hospital in the city for a heart checkup. But for hours there was no sign of Pachamuthu at the Saidapet magistrate court.
Though he was brought to court around 8.00 pm, it was only post 11 pm that magistrate announced his decision to remand the education baron to 15 days in custody.
Pachamuthu will be lodged in a first class prison in the Puzhal central prison, which means he would get a separate room, washroom, table, fan and newspaper. (facility accorded to Income Tax payees).
He has been booked under sections 402 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 34 (criminal act by several people with common intention).
Pachamuthu’s lawyers meanwhile applied for bail, the plea likely to be heard on Monday.
What happened in court?
Around 7.50 pm, the man accused of taking crores from many parents as capitation fees for a medical seat was brought to the court. Trouble started for the SRM group after Supreme Court made National Entrance and Eligibility Test or NEET compulsory. The subsequent legal tussle between governments and colleges, led to the academic calendar collapsing. Those who had paid money for seats could no longer be admitted. In May 2016, Vendhar Madhan, Pachamuthu’s close associate went missing leaving behind a ‘suicide note’, hinting that the crores collected from students cannot be given back.
Pachamuthu’s lawyer Anbalagan argued before the Saidapet Magistrate that his client should not be remanded to custody as he was unwell. The lawyer added that the arrest itself was unwanted as only Madhan had been named in the complaints filed by parents and Pachamuthu’s name was simply being dragged into the mess. He claimed that SRM admitted students only through an entrance exam.
Government pleader Emmanuel opposed this and told the magistrate that two hospitals had certified that Pachamuthu had no health problems.