In a major setback to the Tamil Nadu government, the Madras High Court Friday ordered a CBI probe into the allegations against Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in awarding multi-core road contracts to his relatives. The case was being probed by the state vigilance department, which had recently given a clean chit to the Tamil Nadu CM and claimed that the complaint filed by the DMK is baseless.
Opposition DMK has accused CM Palaniswami of irregularities and corruption in awarding road contracts. It has accused the Tamil Nadu CM of abusing his power and allotting projects worth Rs 3,500 crore to his relatives and ‘benamis’, reports PTI.
Justice A D Jagadish Chandira ordered the transfer of the probe to the probe agency while noting that the court had not expressed any opinion on the case. The judge also noted that the order had been passed only in the interest of justice and to ensure free and fair investigation.
After perusing the report filed by the DVAC, the court said it was not satisfied with it and the action taken by the vigilance agency. DVAC was handling the case after a complaint lodged by DMK organising secretary R S Bharathi. The judge then directed the vigilance agency to hand over all relevant documents to the CBI within a week.
Initially, the petitioner wanted the court to direct the DVAC to conduct a preliminary inquiry and register an FIR on its complaint submitted in June. Later, he had moved an additional plea seeking transfer of the probe to an independent investigating team saying the DVAC was technically under the chief minister, reports the news agency.
On September 12, the court had directed the DVAC to file a report on the day-to-day preliminary investigation conducted by it against Palaniswami on the complaint. During the hearing on October 9, counsel for the petitioner said the party had lost confidence in the DVAC as the agency had been “supporting” the chief minister all along.
However, refuting the charge, the advocate general appearing for the DVAC said the state vigilance agency had conducted a preliminary inquiry as per the procedures laid down and its findings had been forwarded to the vigilance commissioner. He also said the highways department came under the chief minister while the DVAC was an independent authority under the administration of vigilance commissioner.
-With PTI inputs