Chennai: Madras high court has directed the directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption to file a report on the day-to-day preliminary investigation conducted by it on the complaint from DMK against Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, alleging irregularities in the award of contract for highway projects.
Justice A.D. Jagadish Chandra who gave the directive said, “Let the report be filed in a sealed cover and also explain why the complainant has not been inquired by the investigating officer”.
The judge posted to September 17 for further hearing of the petition filed by R.S.Bharathi, organising secretary of DMK, which sought a direction to the DVAC to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations against the Chief Minister and register an FIR.
In his petition, Bharathi alleged that the Chief Minister, by abusing his power, has allotted highway projects worth Rs 3,500 crore to his relatives and benamis. He also filed an additional petition on Tuesday, seeking to transfer the investigation to an independent investigating team since DVAC was technically under the control of chief minister.
When the case came up for hearing on Wednesday, senior counsel N.R. Elango, appearing for the petitioner submitted the cost of the projects that would ordinarily not to exceed Rs 8 to Rs 10 crore has been escalated to Rs 21 crore and above.
Placing reliance on the manual issued by the World Bank governing such world bank funded projects, he said the manual clearly says the tender issuing authorities should not have any conflict of interest with the firms to which such contracts were awarded.
Opposing the same, advocate general Vijay Narayan submitted that Chief Minister’s son was married to the daughter of one such contractor in 2014. But the contractor was in the business since 1991. There was no enhancement of cost at all. These were all ‘annuity contract’ projects completely monitored by the World Bank.
At this stage, the court has to see only whether process of law was followed. Technically the plea has become infructuous since DVAC has completed the preliminary inquiry and forwarded its report to the vigilance commissioner. The commissioner can reject the report and direct the DVAC to proceed further. It was up to the commissioner, he added....