Over two weeks after the Madras High Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into allegations of graft against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, the Supreme Court on Monday stayed the decision.
Following the Madras High Court order on October 12, the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) moved the Supreme Court on October 22, challenging the HC order. The DVAC informed the apex court in its petition that there was no cognisable offence made out against the Chief Minister that warranted an inquiry by the CBI. The DVAC further alleged that the Madras High Court had not perused sealed reports filed by the anti-graft agency.
While the DMK had questioned whether a preliminary inquiry had, in fact, been initiated as per a complaint by party, the DVAC told the Supreme Court that inquiries did not reveal any discrepancies in the awarding of government contracts.
However, the petitioner who brought the matter before the Madras High Court, RS Bharathi, Organising Secretary of the DMK, had questioned the independence of the anti-graft body which is overseen by the Chief Minister against whom allegations have been made.
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 government highways projects to various firms owned by relatives of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. The Highways and Minor Ports portfolio is held by the CM.
The party alleged that the tender for the four-laning of the Tirunelveli-Sengottai-Kollam Highway on SH 39 has been awarded to Venkatachalapathy Constructions, reportedly owned by P Subramaniam, the father-in-law of Edappadi Palaniswamiâ€™s son Mithun.
In addition to this, the DMK also listed out various irregularities in awarding World Bank-assisted highways 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 Madurai Ring Road, six laning of the Vandalur-Walajabad road, and the maintenance of all State Highways in Ramanathapuram, Thiruvallur, Krishnagiri and Virudhunagar districts.
Citing the 'inaction' and a 'lackadaisical approach' on the part of the DVAC, the DMK moved the Madras High Court in August this year.