The Madras High Court on Wednesday permitted N. Maruthu Ganesh of the DMK to amend the prayer in his writ petition and seek a CBI probe into the 2017 Radhakrishnan Nagar bypoll bribery case, in which Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan, Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar and others were allegedly involved.
Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha allowed the amendment petition and ordered notice to the CBI after recording senior counsel P. Wilson’s submission that though a police complaint lodged at the instance of the Election Commission (EC) had an annexure of documents containing names of individuals to whom a total of ₹89.65 crore crore had been supposedly given to be distributed to the voters, the FIR did not contain even a single name.
Further, the police had allowed the FIR to be quashed by a single judge of the High Court at the instance of a petition filed by Tiruttani MLA P.M. Narasimhan after he was summoned for an inquiry in connection with the case. Even the EC was kept in the dark, because it was not made a party to the quash petition, and the police too had chosen not to go on appeal to the SC.
Recalling the history of the bypoll bribery case, he said that it dated back to April 2017 when T.T.V. Dhinakaran, now a leader of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), contested as an AIADMK candidate from the seat vacated due to the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December 2016. During the course of the campaign, the Income Tax department conducted a search at the residence of the Health Minister.
Simultaneous searches were also conducted at 21 places connected to him in Chennai and 11 outside Chennai. During the raids, the I-T sleuths had reportedly recovered a total amount of ₹4.71 crore from the Minister, his father, actor-politician R. Sarathkumar and few others and also seized some incriminating documents. The seizures were conveyed to the EC which rescinded the bypoll election notification on April 9, just three days before polling.
The commission also lodged a police complaint which resulted in registration of an FIR without naming anyone as accused. When things stood thus, Mr. Ganesh had filed a writ petition in the High Court in 2017 to restrain the EC from conducting a bypoll once again in the constituency without ensuring penal action against those who were involved in bribing of voters in April. However, no interim orders were passed in the case and so the byelections were held in December 2017.
Subsequently, when the writ petition was heard in 2018, the petitioner as well as EC were shocked to know that the FIR itself had been quashed at the instance of an AIADMK MLA. Hence, he immediately filed a petition seeking the court’s permission to amend his prayer and seek a CBI probe into the entire issue.