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The Madras High Court has upheld the conviction of two wives of a former AIADMK MLA in a disproportionate wealth case, holding that they abetted the public servant in acquiring wealth through illegal means. Dismissing the appeal filed by the spouses of former AIADMK MLA, late V Panneerselvam, the judge, however, allowed their plea to modify the one-year jail term from rigorous to simple imprisonment, consideration their health.
Panneerselvam, who represented Bodi constituency between 1991 and 1996, was convicted and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment by an additional sessions court judge in January 2007. His spouses were convicted to one year rigorous imprisonment. The three filed an appeal against the lower court order but Panneerselvam died in February 2012. He was charged by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) with amassing wealth to the tune of Rs 21.36 lakh by abusing his official position.
The directorate also charged Panneerselvam’s wives P Janaki Ammal and P Dhanapakkayam with abetting him to amass wealth by lending their name to acquire property from unknown source. Justice G Jayachandran, who dismissed the appeal, in his order said, “On considering the evidence let in by prosecution as well as the defence to explain the source of income this court finds that no error in the conclusion of trial court judgement.”
The judge also said purchase of land in the name of spouses during the check period while Paneerselvam held a public office clearly indicated the source for purchasing those properties not being declared to the competent authority to be considered as unknown source. Hence, the judge held that there was no merit in the appeal and dismissed it and confirmed the trial court order.
The judge, while acceding to the request of the counsel for the MLA’s wives that they were suffering with various ailments, modified the order to simple imprisonment instead of rigorous imprisonment. He also directed the trial court to execute the warrant of arrest after expiry of two weeks from on Thursday if the appellants fail to surrender within that time.