The Madras High Court on Friday ordered a CBI probe against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami on allegations of corruption in allotting State highway contracts. The Court also directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), which probed the allegations and gave a clean chit to the Chief Minister, to hand over the entire case to the CBI.
Today’s order by Justice AD Jagadish Chandira comes three days after the DVAC said that there is no evidence to prove any violation by Palaniswami that was against World Bank guidelines in allotting highway contracts. Petitioner RS Bharathi, Organising Secretary of the DMK, in his petition alleged that Palaniswami, who also holds the portfolio of State highways, had abused his power to allocate five highway laying and maintenance projects worth ₹3,500 crore to firms owned by his relatives and ‘benamis’.
In its order, the Court directed the DVAC to handover the entire case papers and files related to the complaint filed by Bharathi to Joint Director, CBI (South Zone) within a week. The Joint Director, CBI, shall depute an officer under him in the rank of a Superintendent of Police who shall independently conduct a preliminary enquiry afresh examining the petitioner/informant, World Bank officials, and other persons connected with the projects mentioned in the complaint and conclude the preliminary enquiry preferably within a period of three months, the order said. If the preliminary enquiry discloses offences of cognisable nature, he shall register a case and proceed in accordance with law.
“Court once again makes it clear that this order does not express any opinion in relation to the allegations made in the complaint. This order is passed only in the interest of justice for ensuring fair, reasonable and transparent investigation,” the order said. Welcoming the order of the Madras HC, DMK leader MK Stalin urged Chief Minister Palaniswami to resign.