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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Tamil Nadu: Political rivals, unsuccessful bidders backing NGO, claims ex-minister SP Velumani

SP Velumani submitted that his political rivals, along with the contractors who had failed to succeed in the bid, had formed a syndicate to ventilate their commercial or oblique motive through the writ petitioner.

By: PTI | Chennai |
Updated: October 14, 2021 7:19:02 am
Former AIADMK Minister SP Velumani. (File)

An AIADMK former minister has submitted before the Madras High Court that an NGO that has levelled allegations of irregularities against him in award of contracts in the previous regime was backed by his political rivals and the unsuccessful bidders for projects in the Corporations of Chennai and Coimbatore.

SP Velumani, who held the Municipal Administration, Rural Development and Implementation of Special Programme portfolios in the AIADMK ministry, has alleged that Arappor Iyakkam has moved the Madras High Court with “unclean hands,” alleging irregularities in the award of contracts.

The additional counter-affidavit was filed last week in response to the PIL filed in 2018 by the non-governmental organisation, levelling various allegations against Velumani in the award of contracts worth several crores of rupees.

Velumani submitted that his political rivals, along with the contractors who had failed to succeed in the bid, had formed a syndicate to ventilate their commercial or oblique motive through the writ petitioner. If the unsuccessful bidders in the contracts had any grievance, it was open for them to challenge the same in the manner known to law. But they were conducting a shadow and proxy litigation through the writ petitioner.

Hence, the petitioner had not approached the court with clean hands, the counter said.

Velumani also pointed out that as per the October 18, 2019 orders of the High Court, R Ponni, SP, DVAC conducted an enquiry.

During the course of enquiry, the special team had examined 129 witnesses and perused 1,132 documents besides enquiring about the confidential ones such as bank details, electronic data relating to IP addresses of the successful contractors and their establishments concerned and submitted a report to the Vigilance on December 16, 2019.

In turn, the DVAC forwarded the report to the government on January 20, 2020 and the latter accepted it and dropped further action against him. On the basis of the decision made by the government, the Chief Secretary had filed a petition before the High Court for a direction to dispose of the petition filed by the Iyakkam, as it had become infructuous. This petition is pending.

While so, the DVAC and the state government, with the active aid of the petitioner, using the findings of a CAG report, which had nothing to do with the pending report, made a submission at a hearing on July 19 this year that the State would investigate further based on the audit watchdog’s report.

Misconstruing the observations of the High Court, the DVAC had proceeded to register an FIR against him. And the NGO also filed a petition to monitor the investigation.

In August this year, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption registered a case against Velumani for allegedly abusing his official position and allotting tenders and held searches at his premises.

The petitioner further contended that in view of the subsequent change in the political scenario and change in the administration, all this was happening. Indisputably he is no longer a minister. Even otherwise, he never had any nexus or access with the law enforcing authorities to scuttle the process of fair and independent investigation. The situation prevailing at the time of filing the writ petition no longer exists now, the petitioner said.

“Thus, the prayer for monitoring the investigation of Crime No. 16 of 2021 does not arise. Further, it would cause serious prejudice to my right of defence in the FIR under investigation. The continuation of this writ petition would create further prejudice to my legal remedies in as much as any legal forum which I approach would be awaiting the outcome of the present writ petition,” Velumani further contended.

He prayed the court to furnish him a copy of the preliminary enquiry report and make the same as part of the case files and dispose of the Iyakkam’s writ petition as infructuous.

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