The Madras High Court on Friday came down harshly on the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) for delaying the preliminary inquiry into graft allegations against SP Velumani, Tamil Nadu's Minister for Municipal Administration and Rural Development. A division Bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and N Seshasayee ordered the DVAC to file a status report in a sealed cover on the investigation within two weeks.
Superintendent of Police Ponni, who is attached to the DVAC, has been asked to take up the probe.
Arappor Iyakkam, a Chennai-based anti-corruption NGO 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 minister 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’.
According to a report in The Hindu, the minister was given a last chance to file his counter-affidavit in the matter, prior to the next hearing posted for November 1.
According to a report in the Times of India, V Suresh, the counsel for the NGO, argued that the DVAC did not intend to take the investigation to its logical conclusion. “Under the guise of conducting preliminary inquiry, there cannot be any full-fledged investigation and the same can be done only after registration of FIR and if in the opinion of the investigating officer, there are materials available then the court can issue appropriate direction for registration of FIR,” said the counsel.