Madras HC allows withdrawal of appeals challenging inquiry into corruption charges initiated by AIADMK regime against Stalin, Duraimurugan

The Madras High Court has allowed the withdrawal of appeals filed in 2011 by the then AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu against current Chief Minister MK Stalin and Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan over corruption charges in the construction of new legislative assembly buildings.

The order was recently passed by the Division Bench of Justice R Suresh Kumar and Justice K Kumaresh Babu.

The High Court said that it cannot insist upon a party to conduct the case, particularly, when a party wished to abandon his claim without reserving any right.

The issue pertained to a Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate alleged irregularities in the construction of new legislative assembly buildings from 2008 to 2010 when Stalin served as the Deputy Chief Minister and Duraimurugan as the Public Works Department Minister in the then DMK govt headed by late chief minister M Karunanidhi.

In 2011, the AIADMK government led by J Jayalalithaa instituted the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the project.

Given that the inquiry encompassed former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi as well, the three political leaders – M Karunanidhi, MK Stalin, and Duraimurugan -filed separate writ petitions before the High Court in 2014 contesting the formation of the Commission of Inquiry.

The leaders were able to secure interim orders in their favour, effectively causing the Commission of Inquiry to remain inactive since then.

In August 2018, the single-judge Bench of Justice SM Subramaniam ordered the state government to suspend the inactive Commission of Inquiry.

Following the death of M Karunanidhi, the AIADMK government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami dissolved the Commission and replaced it with a DVAC inquiry in September 2018.

The DVAC inquiry was challenged by both Stalin and Duraimurugan by way of a writ petition before the High Court. On December 13, 2018, the Government Order was quashed by the single-judge Bench of Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana (now retired).

In view of the prder passed by Justice Sathyanarayana, the commission’s chairperson tendered resignation.

Following this, the AIADMK government filed an appeal against Justice Sathyanarayana’s ruling in 2019. However, with the change in government in 2021, the DMK administration sought withdrawal of the appeals against the verdict.

Jayavardhan Jayakumar, son of former AIADMK minister D Jayakumar sought impleadment in the case and urged the court not to permit the withdrawal. He stated that he had filed a complaint concerning the same matter before the DVAC.

However, the High Court closed his application by terming it as unnecessary. It opined that even though Jayavardhan Jayakumar had a locus standi to be represented in the government’s appeals, permitting his application would be pointless since the appeals had already been withdrawn.

The High Court said it was also conscious of the fact that the Government Order and the direction issued by the Government to conduct a detailed enquiry, which they now seek to wriggle out, cannot take away the right of the impleading petitioner from seeking appropriate remedy in the manner known to the law, if he was so advised.

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