CHENNAI: The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has again been directed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court to probe the case of accumulation of assets disproportionate to known sources of income against State Dairy Minister K T Rajendra Balaji, afresh.
The preliminary enquiry shall be conducted by a police officer not below the rank of Superintendent, the bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha said. The bench gave the directive after holding that the DVAC had not conducted the preliminary enquiry properly into the complaint against Balaji.
Though Balaji was the vice-chairman of the Thiruthangal municipality in 1996, the DVAC had restricted its enquiry to the period of 2011-13, when he was a minister. The enquiry ought to have been conducted from 1996 itself when he was the vice-chairman of the panchayat as that post was also a public office, the bench said, while passing orders on a petition from one Mahendran of Virudhunagar praying for a directive to the DVAC to hold a detailed enquiry against Balaji. The charge against him was that he had accumulated assets to the tune of about `200 crore.
The bench observed that the directives given in the manual of the DVAC had not been followed in letter and spirit by the Investigating Officer (IO). “This court, on a thorough perusal, appraisal and consideration of the materials placed before it, is of the considered view that the preliminary enquiry has not at all been done properly and therefore, it is to be done once again by fixing the check period from 1996 onwards,” the bench added.
Taking into consideration his position as a minister, the bench said that the preliminary enquiry is to be conducted by an officer belonging to the Indian Police Service (IPS) in the cadre of Superintendent of Police (SP) and directed the DVAC director to nominate an IPS officer in the rank of an SP to conduct the fresh enquiry by fixing the check period from 1996 to February 2018 and submit periodical status reports.