Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram submitted before the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy that it was decided to reopen and investigate the matter further because the DVAC had earlier closed the case without questioning some officials.
He added that the recently released report of the Comptroller and Audit General of India corroborated the perceived irregularities and anomalies in awarding contracts to construct public amenities, as cited by the petitioner, Arappor Iyakkam.
Pointing out that the petitioner alleged that several contractors made a windfall without actually undertaking any work or commensurate work as per the contract, the bench asked the government to go to the bottom of the matter and book all those responsible. It granted the State eight weeks to proceed further and file a counter affidavit.
During the earlier hearing, the court had made it clear that it would not accept DVAC’s report that had given a clean chit to the former minister if it was found to be falsehood at a later stage. “If there are stark allegations that cry out for action to be taken, this court will interfere. If there are only small things, then that would not attract the court,” the bench had said.
The plea, pending since 2018, is related to alleged largescale irregularities in awarding over 200 civil work contracts by the Chennai and Coimbatore Municipal Corporations. The plea had also sought for a direction to the DVAC to register an FIR against Velumani and conduct a full-fledged investigation.
Court-monitored probe gives officials jitters
A few government officials who were in the local administration ministry under AIADMK’s SP Velumani are now jittery, thanks to Vigilance investigation and internal assessment on civic tender violations.
State officials are now scanning the profiles of civic officials and their nexus with the former minister. “The matter is also pending before the High Court and fresh investigations have started. Existing contracts awarded during the AIADMK regime is being reviewed and will be cancelled if tender violations are found,” said an official at the Secretariat.
According to sources, tender documents and the rate fixed for contractors are now studied by the officials and police investigation team. To ensure a smooth probe, the State officials have started interdepartmental transfers. Further, the corporation commissioners across the State have been briefed by the top brass to reexamine the tender process for a foolproof system.
Like Aavin, mass transfers in local bodies have started and the new officers have been told to cooperate with the investigation, the official said. The state is also focussing on the coal purchase tenders issued by the TNEB during the AIADMK regime. Medical colleges and state highway projects completed during the AIADMK regime is also under Vigilance scanner, the official added.