Charges against OPS: HC asks DVAC to complete probe ‘expeditiously’

Charges against OPS: HC asks DVAC to complete probe ‘expeditiously’
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Highlights

In what could be spelling trouble for O Panneerselvam, the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed an antigraft body to complete a preliminary probe as expeditiously as possible into a complaint lodged in connection with graft charges against the Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister for amassing wealth above his known sources of income

Chennai: In what could be spelling trouble for O Panneerselvam, the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed an anti-graft body to complete a preliminary probe "as expeditiously as possible" into a complaint lodged in connection with graft charges against the Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister for amassing wealth above his known sources of income.

The matter pertains to a complaint lodged by DMK MP R S Bharathi with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in March, on behalf of his party.

When the matter came up before Justice Jayachandran, Advocate General Vijay Narayan, who appeared on behalf of the state government, said as per a circular dated July 18, a preliminary inquiry has been ordered based on the information furnished by Bharathi.

Justice G Jayachandran disposed of petitions filed by Bharathi and another one by an organisation named 'Arappor Iyakkam' represented by Jairam Venkatesh seeking a direction to the DVAC to probe the complaint. "...the inquiry has to be completed as expeditiously as possible...," the judge said.

"In so far as other petition by Arappor Iyakkam is concerned, the information furnished will be taken note of in the case of investigation," Justice Jayachandran said.

In his petition, Bharathi alleged that the senior AIADMK leader had amassed wealth by abusing his power gained unlawfully and invested the same in companies and properties either in his name or that of his "benamis".

He alleged that for this purpose, Panneerselvam had made false declarations before the Income Tax authorities and election officials.

Alleging that the DVAC had not acted on his complaint till date, the petitioner said the high court had already made it clear that when a complaint was given against a public servant, the vigilance department had to look into it directly and that no prior sanction was needed.

Referring to the various lands owned by Panneerselvam, the petitioner alleged that in his election affidavit he had not disclosed details of the plots and the income earned from them, which must be investigated.

Land valued at more than Rs 140 crore was leased out to benamis of OPS, the petitioner alleged.

He also alleged that Panneerselvam's son was a director in many companies and they had purchased several acres of land worth over Rs 68 crore.

Bharathi sought a direction to the DVAC to register a case and investigate the complaint against the deputy chief minister.

The court had earlier asked the anti-graft body to explain why no probe was initiated even three months after a complaint was lodged against Panneerselvam.

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