Madras HC reopens cases against two more DMK ministers, says ‘something very rotten’ in acquittal | Political Pulse News

Justice Venkatesh, who ordered revision of acquittal of TN Education Minister in an assets case, now reopens similar cases against Revenue, Finance Minister. All three were acquitted recently

madras hc case on DMK ministersJustice N Anand Venkatesh, who on August 10 ordered reopening of the case against Ponmudi, has now re-initiated revision of legal proceedings – also in disproportionate assets cases – against Revenue Minister K K S S R Ramachandran and Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu (left). (Twitter)

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DAYS AFTER the rare move of ordering revision of the acquittal of Tamil Nadu Education Minister K Ponmudi in a disproportionate assets case, the Madras High Court has suo motu ordered similar action against two more DMK ministers.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh, who on August 10 ordered reopening of the case against Ponmudi, has now re-initiated revision of legal proceedings – also in disproportionate assets cases – against Revenue Minister K K S S R Ramachandran and Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu, while severely criticising the Special Court’s acquittal of the two.

The state’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had charged Ramachandran, his wife and a friend in 2011 under the Prevention of Corruption Act, over the possession of assets worth Rs 44.59 lakh allegedly disproportionate to their sources of income. The AIADMK was in power at the time.

The case made its way through several courts, finally culminating in the acquittal of the three on July 20 this year, after the investigating officer submitted a revised assessment negating criminal misconduct.

Thennarasu’s case followed a similar path. In 2012, again under AIADMK rule, a chargesheet was filed against Thennarasu and his wife for allegedly possessing Rs 74.58 lakh worth of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. They were acquitted of the charges on December 12, 2022.

In his order Wednesday, Justice Venkatesh said the court had “smelt a rat” and hence called for records of the two cases. He added: “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark, said Shakespeare in Hamlet. On examining the records, this court is of the considered opinion that something is very rotten in the Special Court for MP/MLA Cases at Srivilliputhur.”

The Special Court has resorted to “a curious judicial technique”, writing the order in a way that nobody, “including the judge writing it, can comprehend”, the judge noted.

The cases against the two ministers “displayed a pattern of delay and manipulation from 2013 to 2021” till, following the transfer of power in 2021, a closure report was filed, “seemingly crafted to exonerate the accused”, which the Special Court accepted, the High Court said.

“It is all too apparent that upon change of power in the state in 2021, the identities of the accused and the prosecution were obliterated as all the players in the game suddenly found themselves belonging to the same team. Realizing this, the umpire ie., the Special Court, appears to have decided that the wisest course open to it was to get itself out hit wicket. This, therefore, is yet another instance of a criminal trial being derailed by the active design of those at the helm of political power. If this trend goes unchecked, our Special Courts meant for MP/MLA trials would become a playground for all sorts of condemnable practices which are handcrafted and orchestrated to subvert and derail the criminal justice system,” the order said.

Issuing notices to all parties concerned, Justice Venkatesh said: “The approach of the Special Court can find few parallels, and if such jugglery is to be emulated elsewhere, the Special Courts trying MP/MLA cases in this state would be writing a collective obituary to the cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”

Ponmudi had been acquitted on June 28 this year. Re-initiating proceedings against him suo motu, Justice Venkatesh had on August 10 questioned the speed of proceedings in the case, leading up to Ponmudi’s acquittal by a Vellore Principal District Court judge, just before the latter retired.

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The court had noted that the Principal District Judge, who was set to retire on June 30, 2023, had examined defence witnesses on June 6, received written submissions from the accused by June 23, reviewed evidence from 172 prosecution witnesses and 381 documents apparently within four days, and delivered a 226-page judgment acquitting all the accused on June 28.

“… perhaps, the accused drew inspiration from Paulo Coelho who said that ‘When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it’,” Justice Venkatesh had observed, while asserting the need for judicial scrutiny.

Ordering notices to the DVAC and Ponmudi, he had directed that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice. “This unique feat of industry on the part of the Principal District Judge, Vellore can find few parallels, and it may well be said is a feat that even judicial mortals in constitutional courts can only dream of,” said the 17-page order, calling the whole incident “a shocking and calculated attempt to manipulate and subvert the criminal justice system”.

First published on: 23-08-2023 at 12:56 IST

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