Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi puts reinduction of former state minister K Ponmudy on hold


Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has deferred the swearing-in of senior Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and former Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy to reinstate him into the state Cabinet, The Indian Express reported.

In December, the Madras High Court had sentenced Ponmudy and his wife, P Visalakshi, to three years in jail in a disproportionate assets case. On account of the conviction, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader was disqualified as an MLA and ceased to be a minister.

On Monday, the Supreme Court stayed Ponmudy and Visalakshi’s conviction and prison sentence.

On Wednesday, Ponmudy was reinstated as a legislator after authorities revoked a notification that declared his Tirukoyilur Assembly constituency vacant, PTI reported.

Subsequently, Chief Minister MK Stalin sought time on Wednesday or Thursday from the Governor for Ponmudy’s swearing-in ceremony, The Hindu reported quoting an unidentified source. But Ravi’s planned visit to Delhi had delayed the former minister’s reinstatement into the Cabinet.

The Governor had also sought legal consultation on Ponmudy’s reinstatement as his conviction and sentence had only been stayed by the top court, The Indian Express reported citing an unidentified official from the Raj Bhavan.

Disproportionate assets case

The case against Ponmudy and Visalakshi was filed in 2011 by the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. The allegations pertain to the period between April 13, 2006, and May 13, 2010, when Ponmudy was the state minister for higher education and mines.

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption alleged that the minister and his wife amassed assets amounting to Rs 1.72 crore, which were significantly disproportionate to their known sources of income.

In December, the Madras High Court had convicted Ponmudy and Visalakshi and set aside a 2016 judgement of a special court acquitting them. It had said that the acquittal order was “palpably wrong, manifestly erroneous and demonstrably unsustainable”.

The High Court had said that the special court erred in considering Ponmudy and his wife as separate entities, and in holding that post-facto income tax returns by Visalakshi were grounds for acquittal.

The top court, while staying the conviction and sentence on March 11, said that an “irreversible situation will be created if conviction is not suspended”.

The Supreme Court said: “We find that the High Court has not considered the main question whether the view taken by the Special Court [which acquitted the accused persons] was a possible view.”

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