The Attorney General of India filed the affidavit detailing the progress on behalf of the Governor amidst an ongoing clash between the DMK government and the Governor’s office.
The affidavit, submitted to the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, outlines the procedural advancements in processing the files related to the prosecution of the two former AIADMK ministers. The files, received from the Tamil Nadu government on September 12, 2022, received the Governor’s approval on November 13, 2023.
Attorney General Venkataramani presented the ‘factual position regarding bills, files, and other cases pending with the governor’s office’ before the bench. This submission occurred during a petition filed by the DMK government, alleging the Governor’s inaction, omission, delay, and failure to comply with constitutional mandates.
The Governor also revealed that a file received on May 15, 2023, concerning the prosecution of another former AIADMK minister, M R Vijayabaskar, is currently under consideration. In response, TN Law Minister S Raghupathy assured reporters in Pudukottai that the government would promptly inform the CBI about the Governor’s sanction, despite the DMK government having withdrawn general consent to the CBI.
The Gutka scam, investigated by the CBI, centers around the collection of illegal gratification from suppliers of mawa/gutka. The CBI submitted its probe report to the DMK government last year, implicating 11 individuals, including BV Ramana, retired IPS officer S George, former DGP TK Rajendran, and seven other officials. The CBI sought permission to prosecute them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The state government’s public prosecutor, in his opinion, supported the launch of prosecutions against the two ministers and 11 officials. Following this, on July 19, 2022, CM MK Stalin granted his approval, and the file was sent to the Governor for clearance.
The affidavit reveals that the file was returned on November 15, with the observation that there was no duly authenticated investigation report but only unauthenticated loose sheets. Another file related to the prosecution of former AIADMK minister K C Veeramani was received on November 18, 2023. The governor had requested a duly authenticated investigation report from the DVAC on July 7, 2013, but the state government’s reply indicated the availability of only unauthenticated loose sheets.
Regarding former Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar, the report states that the matter is still under consideration at the Raj Bhavan. While the governor’s office initially claimed on July 6 that it had not received any reference concerning Vijayabaskar, the recent affidavit clarified that the request was indeed received on May 15.
The affidavit further discloses that the governor sanctioned the prosecution against former Thanjavur Tamil University Vice-Chancellor G Bhaskaran in a corruption case. Notably, these sanctions come a year after the CBI sought approval for their prosecution.
The ongoing tensions between the DMK government and the Governor came to the fore during recent political events. The DMK government has been critical of the Governor, with alliance partners making personal attacks. One member referred to the CBI and ED as “dogs,” alluding to recent arrests of DMK ministers. The comments led to condemnation from TN BJP chief Annamalai.
In the midst of political turmoil, the Governor’s actions regarding the Gutka scam prosecutions are likely to fuel further debates and discussions on the delicate balance between constitutional mandates and political manoeuvres in the state.
Congress MLA Thiru Selvaperunthagai, on the floor of the assembly, infers to CBI, ED & IT officials as Dogs that enter ministers' houses without permission.
Withdrawing general consent given to the CBI, roughing up IT officials & inferring govt officials as Dogs is only an… pic.twitter.com/y2YgGyNSO8
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) November 18, 2023
Amidst escalating political tensions, journalist Senkottai Sriram highlighted the continuous barrage of personal accusations by the DMK government and its allies, including the Murasoli (DMK mouthpiece) and Theekadir (left paper), directed at Governor RN Ravi. Sriram suggested that the recent sanctioning of prosecutions against two AIADMK ministers might prompt the Governor to address corruption complaints against present DMK ministers, including Chief Minister MK Stalin, his son, son-in-law, and an MP.
Sriram hinted that the Governor could potentially greenlight investigative agencies to proceed, turning the tables on the DMK government. This move, if realised, could be perceived as the DMK government digging its own grave. TN BJP chief Annamalai has also entered the fray, releasing files labelled “DMK Files 1 and 2” and presenting a box full of corruption charges against the Stalin government.
The political landscape is becoming increasingly charged, with both the Centre and the Governor’s office seemingly poised to strike back. Observers speculate that this political chess game may unfold before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and after the results of the upcoming five state assembly elections. The outcome of these events, if favourable to the NDA, could significantly impact the political landscape in the region. As accusations and counter-accusations continue to fly, political observers are closely watching the unfolding drama in Tamil Nadu.