SC stays HC order on plea seeking CBI probe in bypoll bribery case
Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 10 MARCH 2020 01:46 ISTUPDATED: 10 MARCH 2020 01:46 IST
Interim order comes in response to appeal by AIADMK MLA
The Supreme Court has stayed the operation of an interim order passed by the Madras High Court on January 29 permitting N. Maruthu Ganesh of DMK to seek a CBI probe into the 2017 Radhakrishnan (RK) Nagar bypoll bribery case in which Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan, Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar and many others were allegedly involved.
A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde and Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant granted the interim stay, until further orders, pursuant to individual appeals preferred by AIADMK MLA P.M. Narasimhan and the Inspector of Abhiramapuram police station where a First Information Report was registered on the basis of a complaint lodged at the instance of the Election Commission in 2017.
While Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi argued the appeal preferred by the MLA challenging the High Court order, Advocate General Vijay Narayan and Additional Advocate General Balaji Srinivasan appeared on behalf of the Inspector of Police. The appellants contended that a Division Bench of the High Court had failed to appreciate that the FIR registered at the instance of the ECI had got quashed by a single judge of the same High Court in March 2018.Advertising
Since the single judge’s order had attained finality on not being taken on appeal, there was nothing left to be transferred to or investigated by the CBI now, they claimed. It was also pointed out before the apex court that the litigant before the Division Bench of the High Court was a political opponent of the ruling party and therefore his attempt to seek CBI’s interference in the case was ill motivated and clearly political in nature.
The issue dates back to April 2017 when T.T.V. Dhinakaran, now AMMK leader, contested as an AIADMK candidate in RK Nagar constituency which got vacated due to the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December 2016. An Income Tax raid, then, in the residence of the Health Minister led to seizure of loose sheets containing names of several ministers to whom a total of Rs.89.65 crore crore had been supposedly given to be distributed to the voters.
The seizures were informed to the ECI which rescinded the bypoll election notification on April 9, just three days before polling, and lodged a police complaint. The police, in turn, registered a FIR without any mentioning any name in the column meant for filling up the names of the accused and let the FIR get quashed by a single judge of the High Court at the instance of Tiruttani MLA Mr. Narasimhan after he was summoned for inquiry.
The ECI was kept in the dark about the quashing of the FIR for long and it came to know about it only during hearing of the writ petition filed by Mr. Ganesh before the Division Bench in December 2018. It was in this background that the DMK man moved an application last year to amend his prayer and seek a CBI probe into the issue and the Division Bench allowed his plea.