After taking suo moto revision of the lower court's orders discharging Tamil Nadu ministers K. Ponmudy, K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran and Thangam Thennarasu, the Madras High Court on Thursday took to review the 2012 order to acquit former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam from the Disproportionate Assets (DA) case.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh who took up the revision, came down heavily on Tamil Nadu’s investigation agency - Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) - comparing it to a chameleon. Stating that the DVAC is changing colours to the tune of the party in power, to save ministers from the noose of the criminal justice delivery system, the Judge said that the agency should function away from the government. DVAC is an arm of the Tamil Nadu police which investigates vigilance and corruption cases.
Taking up the review of OPS’s DA case which was closed in 2012, the Judge said, “If you expect the high court to close its eyes to such systemic failure then we will be failing in our constitutional duty. A party, B party is not our headache. We have to only ensure that the system is not broken down. This case against OPS is the starting point.” He also said that it is a shame on the criminal delivery system. “DVAC has unfortunately become a chameleon and has begun to take its colours depending upon who is in power. Unfortunately, courts have also acted in tandem.”
Stating that there are grave irregularities in the OPS case, Justice Anand Venkatesh said that the accused had filed for further investigation, though they have no right to do so. An additional final report was filed before the government and not the special court. The then Tamil Nadu speaker too had acted as a judge. The judge criticised the 2012 order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court of Sivaganga to discharge OPS from the DA case as it was the starting point for the other ministers to get discharged from such cases.
He also ordered notice to the respondents including OPS and his family members and directed them to file a reply by September 27.
THE WEEK was the first to report, in 2017, on the DVAC case which was quashed by an appeal in the Sivaganga court.
OPS, who was a three-time chief minister and a staunch Jayalalithaa loyalist, is now a rebel, after being thrown out from the AIADMK by its incumbent general secretary Edappadi K. Palanisami. His elder son O.P. Ravindranath Kumar is a member of parliament from the Theni constituency. He is the lone MP from the AIADMK. However, Ravi’s election was nullified by the Madras High Court recently after hearing the election petition filed by DMK’s Thanga Thamizhselvan. Ravi has approached now the Supreme Court against the order.