‘Pattern in discharge of ministers from DA cases': Madras High Court

Madras High Court has taken up suo moto revision of orders acquitting DMK ministers KKSSR Ramachandran and Thangam Thennarasu in separate disproportionate assets cases.
Madras High Court (File Photo | EPS)
Madras High Court (File Photo | EPS)

CHENNAI: Taking up the suo motu revision of two orders of a subordinate court to discharge two sitting ministers from the disproportionate assets (DA) cases, the Madras High Court on Wednesday said the orders revealed a well-orchestrated pattern and suffering from grave illegality resulting in a gross miscarriage of justice.

Ministers Thangam Thennarasu
Ministers Thangam Thennarasu

Justice N Anand Venkatesh took up the suo motu revision of the orders passed by the principal district and sessions court of Virudhunagar district passed on December 12, 2022, and July 20, 2023, to discharge Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu and Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran respectively, along with their family members and friends, from the DA cases.

Both orders revealed a ‘well-orchestrated pattern’ as the special court (principal distriçt and sessions court)  had taken cognizance of the final reports in 2013-14, discharge applications were filed and the cases were adjourned for years till 2021 when ‘the political fortunes in the state smiled on the main accused who regained their positions as ministers in the state cabinet, he said.

The judge stated the approach of the special court appears to be ex-facie illegal and cannot stand scrutiny even for a moment since the court had no power, whatsoever at the stage of discharge under section 239 of CrPC, to discard, without assigning any reason, findings and materials which culminated in the charge sheet. He stated that a few months after the regime change, the prosecution (DVAC) offered to conduct further investigation into the matters and filed closure reports as a result of such investigation, tailored to support the grounds for discharge.

“The special court was then presented with a perfect fait accompli as the prosecution suddenly whitewashed its earlier final report and presented a picture of complete innocence. On its part, the court accepted the closure report and proceeded to discharge the accused.”

“If this trend goes unchecked, the special courts meant for MP/MLA cases would become a playground for all sorts of condemnable practices which are handcrafted and orchestrated to subvert and derail the criminal justice system,” he said.

He ordered notice to DVAC and the accused and posted the matter to September 20 for further hearing.

Officers shouldn’t be stigmatised: AG

Even before the judge passed the orders, Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram said the officers cannot be stigmatised without being heard. “My concern is only with regards that officers shouldn’t be stigmatised,” he said. The AG further stated that enhancement notice and suo motu will normally go before another judge than the judge who issues notice but he wanted to make his submissions before Justice Anand Venkatesh so that he can appreciate the state’s stand and defer the proceedings.

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