Minister Ponmudy’s fate depends on spl leave petition to be filed in SC

“If the petition for exemption is listed before a single judge, and if granted, he need not have to surrender,” retired High Court judge Justice S Nagamuthu told TNIE.
Ponmudy and his wife leaving the high court complex on Thursday | Ashwin Prasath
Ponmudy and his wife leaving the high court complex on Thursday | Ashwin Prasath

CHENNAI: Being caught in an almost inextricable legal tangle following the conviction and sentence in the disproportionate assets case, Ponmudy’s destiny hinges on the outcome of his appeal to be filed before the Supreme Court. 

According to legal experts, he can move a special leave petition (SLP) challenging the conviction and the sentence under Article 136 of the Constitution along with a prayer for exemption from surrendering before the trial court, for which, he has been given 30 days by the high court.

“If the petition for exemption is listed before a single judge, and if granted, he need not have to surrender,” retired High Court judge Justice S Nagamuthu told TNIE. If the SLP reaches a two-judge division bench, it may issue notice or dismiss the petition at the admission stage. One can’t be sure of it also. If notice is issued, later it may be admitted,” he said, adding once SLP is dismissed, it will be end of the road for Ponmudy.

Justice Nagamuthu, who is currently designated senior counsel of the SC, clarified the “apex court may suspend the execution of sentence but will not stay the conviction”, as the court had held, on several occasions, the conviction cannot be stayed in a corruption case. The automatic disqualification will not be made ineffective unless the conviction is stayed, he said, adding upon surrender, the trial court can grant him bail.

Senior advocate KM Vijayan said the outcome of the SLP before the Supreme Court depends upon several factors. “Whether the Supreme Court will extend the suspension of the sentence (given for 30 days by the high court) depends on so many factors,” he noted. Age and health issues may also be considered by the apex court while considering the plea for suspension of the sentence, he added.

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