The Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) moved the Supreme Court on Monday, challenging the order by the Madras High Court, which directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe allegations of corruption against Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. DVAC had informed the court that there was no cognisable offence against the CM and that they could not find any irregularities in the highway contracts.
According to The Hindu, the DVAC has stated in its petition to the SC that a CBI investigation was not sought by the petitioner. The DVAC has also alleged that the High Court had not perused the sealed reports it had asked the anti-graft agency to submit. The DVAC has thus said that the Madras HC order comes without analysing the evidence presented before it.
This comes just days after AIADMK organising secretary C Ponnaiyan clarified that DVAC may appeal against the High Court order, after a statement he made ruffled feathers and was slammed by Leader of the Opposition and DMK President Stalin.
â€śI never said that DVAC will appeal against the court order. This is wrong. DVAC is an autonomous institution and it abides by the court order. I had said DVAC may go on an appeal,â€ť Ponnaiyan was quoted as stating.
Stalin had remarked that by making Ponnaiyan answer the charges, the CM, who is â€śpitiably clinging to powerâ€ť, has confirmed that the charges against him are true. The DMK said that this was a move to protect the CM.
Speaking to TNM, DMK spokesperson A Saravanan said, "The DMK has filed a caveat on Saturday before the Supreme Court stating that no order should be passed without hearing us.â€ť
He adds, "This is yet another move to protect the Chief Minister in this case. The CM controls the DVAC administratively as the body comes under the jurisdiction of his ministers. The director of the DVAC, Murugan, has been accused of sexual harassment, which is under investigation. So, this grants the government further control over him," he alleged.
In June this year, the DMK had written to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, alleging that there was corruption in the allocation of contracts of five highways projects to various firms owned by relatives of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. The Highways and Minor Ports portfolio is held by the CM.
On October 12, Justice Jagdish of the Madras High Court, dismissing the report submitted by the DVAC, ordered the CBI investigation to be headed by an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police. He stated that the probe was being transferred to the CBI in the interest of transparency.
The court called for a preliminary inquiry into the matter to be conducted within a period of three months. If a case is made out of the inquiry, the investigating team has been ordered to file for further proceedings, he had said. Stalin had said that this Madras HC order exposed that the autonomy of bodies such as DVAC and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner had been comprised by the AIADMK.
Following the High Court order, DMK organising secretary R S Bharathi told The Hindu that they have evidence to back their claims. â€śAs far as the Chief Minister is concerned, we filed complaints with evidence in connection with only four cases and it led to the High Court ordering a CBI probe,â€ť he said.
The DMK had alleged that the tender for the Tirunelveli-Sengottai-Kollam highway on SH 39 to be four-laned was awarded Venkatachalapathy Constructions, reportedly owned by P Subramaniam, the father-in-law of Edappadi Palaniswamiâ€™s son Mithun.