Only Governor, not Public Secretary can approve probe against ministers, claims former DMK MLA

Convinced with his submissions, the first Bench directed the State to file its counter affidavit.

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the State government to file its counter affidavit to a writ petition challenging a 2018 Government Order which mandates Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to obtain Public department Secretary’s approval before probing into corruption complaints lodged against ministers.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy directed State Government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan to take notice and ensure that a counter affidavit was filed within six weeks. The direction was issued on the petition filed by M. Appavu, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly, owing allegiance to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The petitioner’s case was that he had lodged corruption complaints against some of the ministers belonging to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Claiming that the Governor should be the competent authority to grant approval for probing such complaints made against ministers, the litigant opposed the authority having been given to Public department Secretary.

When the Chief Justice questioned the petitioner for having brought a political battle to the court room and said it was routine for political parties to blame each other of corruption, senior counsel N.R. Elango pointed out that the present petitioner had actually raised a significant question of law on who should be the appropriate authority to grant approval.

He also read out the Supreme Court’s 2004 verdict in a case filed by former DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan for transferring the disproportionate wealth case against the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to some other State. In that case, the apex court had rejected the contention of the transfer petition having been filed due to political vendetta.

“In a democracy, the political opponents play an important role both inside and outside the House. They are the watchdogs of the government in power. It will be their effective weapon to counter the misdeeds and mischiefs of the government in power. They are the mouthpiece to ventilate the grievances o the public at large, if genuinely and unbiasedly projected,” the senior counsel quoted the Supreme Court to have said and urged the Bench to entertain the present case.

Convinced with his submissions, the first Bench directed the State to file its counter affidavit.

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