Slamming the anti-graft body, Justice Jagdish Chandra asked, ‘Why has no action been taken for two months?’

EPS graft charges Preliminary inquiry initiated DVAC informs Madras HC
news Law Friday, August 24, 2018 - 13:40

A day after the DMK moved the Madras High Court over allegations of corruption on the part of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has responded stating that a preliminary inquiry into the charges have been initiated.

The DMK’s petition came up before Justice Jagdish Chandra on Friday.

Tamil Nadu Advocate General Vijay Narayan, who appeared for the DVAC, informed the court that preliminary inquiries had been ordered into the allegations on June 22, nine days after the DMK lodged its complaint. The government sought three months’ time for its inquiry to be completed.

Senior advocate NR Elango, who appeared on behalf of the DMK, contended that the complainant, DMK MP and Organising Secretary RS Bharathi, was not informed of any action having been taken with regard to the complaint. Pointing out that preliminary inquiry only meant deciding whether a case is fit for investigation, he stated that no reports had been filed on the investigation.

Citing the (now modified) Supreme Court judgement in Lalita Kumari vs. Government of UP, the advocate said that the preliminary inquiry should have been completed within seven days of the complaint being lodged.

“As per to the Prevention of Corruption Act, a report should have been filed within two months, on August 22. The time for that has elapsed and yet no report has been filed and the preliminary inquiries have still not concluded,” he argued.

In response, the Advocate General said that the World Bank was overseeing the highways projects that it was assisting with.

Slamming the anti-graft body, Justice Jagdish Chandra asked, “Why has no action been taken for two months?” He also stated that the time for preliminary inquiry was over.

In June this year, the DMK had lodged a complaint with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, alleging irregularities in the awarding of government highways contracts to relatives and benamis of the Chief Minister.

The DMK lists out various irregularities in ‘overvalued’ World Bank-assisted government projects, including the four laning of the Oddanchatram-Dharapuram-Avinashipalayam state highway, the four laning of the Tirunelveli-Sengottai-Kollam state highway, the four laning of the Madurai Ring Road, six laning of the Vandalur-Walajabad road, and the maintenance of all state highways in Ramanathapuram, Thiruvallur, Krishnagiri and Virudhunagar districts.

The main opposition party in the state also alleges that Chandrakanth Ramalingam (related to EPS through his daughter-in-law), P Subramaniam (father-in-law of EPS’ son) and Nagarajan Seyyadurai (an alleged benami) bagged these contracts, thanks to their proximity to the Chief Minister.

Directing the DVAC to respond, the court posted the matter for further hearing on September 4.