CHENNAI: A division bench of Madras High Court had upheld an order of a single judge, by rejecting the petitions challenging the move of the IT department to attach the properties of benamidars of former AIADMK interim general secretary VK Sasikala under the Benami Properties Transactions Act, 1988.
The bench comprising Justice R Mahadevan and Justice J Sathya Narayana Prasad passed the orders on dismissing a batch of writ appeals filed against the single judge’s order dated October 21, 2021.
The appellants wanted to quash the provisional attachment of their properties by the IT under the charge that those were purchased by Sasikala with the demonetised currency notes worth Rs 1,674 crore from November to December 2016. They submitted that the initiating authority did not allow them to cross-examine witnesses, and added that the initiating authority did not provide documents in connection with the charge.
Special Public Prosecutor M Sheela countered such submissions saying that the inquiry authority had served all copies of the documents to appellants. “The initiating authority is not a fact-finding authority to allow appellants to cross-examine the witnesses. The adjudicating authority would provide that opportunity to the appellants,” she added.
When an appellant stated that he did not enter into a MoU with Sasikala and others for selling the spectrum mall, the SPP submitted that other mall promoters had agreed that the MoUs were signed to sell the mall for Rs 192.50 crore.
On recording the arguments, the bench held that the plea raised by the appellant in this regard cannot be countenanced.
The division bench, while upholding the single judge’s order, noted that they did not find any error in the order passed by the first respondent. “The single judge has rightly affirmed the same and directed the respondent authorities to proceed further by the law. Thus, the appellant has not made a case to interfere with the order,” the court ordered.
The appellants were businessmen, a private resort and a real estate and infrastructure firm. The charges of the Benami Prohibition Unit were based on the evidence that they fetched from an IT search that was conducted in Sasikala’s house in T Nagar in 2017. The agency had fetched photographs of handwritten sheets from the phone of Krishnapriya, kin of Sasikala.