The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) submitted its detailed preliminary inquiry report on allegations of corruption against Tamil Nadu's Minister for Municipal Administration SP Velumani to the Madras High Court on Thursday. The report was submitted in a sealed cover as the court had directed.
According to one report in The Hindu, the anti-graft agency justified its detailed inquiry into the allegations before a Bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha when the judges raised questions on the detailed nature of the investigation when only a preliminary inquiry had been mandated. The DVAC argued that as per earlier verdicts of the Supreme Court, the investigating officer could determine the scope of the preliminary inquiry according to each individual case. The DVAC counsel said that the agency was within its rights to conduct a detailed preliminary inquiry without having registered an FIR.
Along with the detailed inquiry report, State Public Prosecutor, A Natarajan, also submitted witness statements in a separate sealed cover.
In 2018, Chennai-based anti-corruption NGO Arappor Iyakkam had submitted evidence of alleged unfair practices and corruption in awarding Chennai and Coimbatore Corporation tenders. In September last year, the NGO had accused the Velumani of indulging in corruption and favouritism in awarding contracts pertaining to Coimbatore and Chennai Corporations, thereby violating the Tamil Nadu Tender Transparency Act 1998 and provisions of the Competition Act 2002.
According to Arappor Iyakkam, 188 tenders worth Rs 67 crore were awarded to a syndicate of six contractors owned and operated by people close to SP Velumani. Following this, the DMK had approached the court, seeking a probe and slamming the anti-graft body for reportedly acting to shield its ‘political masters’.
The matter has been adjourned to February 17. Minister Velumani's counsel is expected to make his arguments on the day.