The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC) has given a clean chit


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TAMIL NADUDVAC gives clean chit to Rajenthra Bhalaji in wealth case


K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji. File | Photo Credit: M. PRABHU
Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 14 DECEMBER 2019 00:59 ISTUPDATED: 14 DECEMBER 2019 00:59 IST


 
 
 
 
Bench irked by agency’s ‘detailed’ probe instead of a preliminary inquiry, wonders how it expects HC to drop all proceedings based on the report
The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC) has given a clean chit to Minister for Milk and Dairy Development K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji after holding “preliminary inquiry” into a complaint alleging that he amassed wealth disproportionate to known sources of income ever since he held the post of vice-president of Tiruthangal town panchayat (now a municipality) in Virudhunagar district in 1996.
However, a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha on Friday doubted whether a 754-page report submitted by the DVAC could be termed as the outcome of a preliminary inquiry whose object was only to find out whether any cognizable offence had been made out in the complaint or not.
They said the police officers appear to have conducted a “detailed investigation in the guise of conducting a preliminary inquiry.” The judges failed to understand how the DVAC could expect the High Court to drop all proceedings on the basis of an exhaustive investigation conducted without even registering a First Information Report. “If your officers do not understand the difference between a preliminary inquiry and a regular investigation, we are helpless,” Justice Sathyanarayanan told State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan who represented the DVAC.
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Appearing for the Minister, senior counsel I. Subramanian and M. Ajmal Khan said what had been done was only a preliminary inquiry and the investigators had to collect statements of witnesses and documentary evidences as per the DVAC manual. They said such inquiry had the approval of the High Court where periodic status reports were filed. The judge clarified that the court had ordered preliminary inquiry alone and nothing more.
Judge slams DVAC
He questioned as to how the DVAC could give a clean chit to the Minister who was found to be in possession of assets disproportionate to his income though the unaccounted amount was less than 10%.
The judge wanted to know whether it was for the police or the court concerned to apply the benefit of a 1977 Supreme Court judgement in Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case and give the benefit of permissible variation of 10% to the accused.
He was surprised over the swift action taken by the government on the issue. He wondered how the 754-page report submitted by the DVAC to the Vigilance Commissioner on July 27 this year was forwarded to the Public Department on August 2 and a final decision taken by the government on August 10 itself to drop all further proceedings.
“Within eight days, your officers have gone through a 750-page report and taken a decision? It will be nice if such speedy action is taken in all cases. Ninety per cent of litigation can be avoided if government officials work this fast. Now, even for issuing a ration card, you are taking two years,” the senior judge in the Bench remarked.
Later, the judges adjourned the case to January 23 since some of the case records were yet to be forwarded from the Madurai Bench of the High Court, where the case was filed, to its principal seat in Chennai.
R. Mahendran of Madurai, represented by his counsel I. Robert Chandrakumar, had filed the case in 2013. accusing the Minister of having declared that he had no known sources of income and that he was not even an income tax assessee, when he contested the Assembly elections for the first time in 2011. On the contrary, in the same declaration, Mr. Bhalaji claimed to be in possession of several movable and immovable assets.
Passing interim orders in the case on June 12, 2018, the Division Bench had directed the DVAC to appoint an Indian Police Service officer in the rank of Superintendent of Police to conduct a preliminary inquiry

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