Supreme Court restores corruption case against Tamil Nadu minister Balaji | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Supreme Court restores corruption case against Tamil Nadu minister Balaji

ByAbraham Thomas, New Delhi
Sep 09, 2022 12:14 AM IST

Setting aside the order of the Madras high court delivered on July 30, 2021 that quashed an FIR against Balaji following a compromise reached between the complainant victims (bribe givers) and Balaji (bribe taker), the top court directed the state police to proceed with the case investigation.

Noting that corruption by public servants is an offence against the state and society at large, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered criminal charges to be restored against DMK leader and Tamil Nadu electricity minister Senthil Balaji in a cash-for-job case during his tenure as state transport minister between 2011 and 2015.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered criminal charges to be restored against DMK leader and Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji (HT)
The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered criminal charges to be restored against DMK leader and Tamil Nadu minister Senthil Balaji (HT)

Setting aside the order of the Madras high court delivered on July 30, 2021 that quashed an FIR against Balaji following a compromise reached between the complainant victims (bribe givers) and Balaji (bribe taker), the top court directed the state police to proceed with the case investigation.

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The apex court expressed shock over the glaring omission by the state to leave out provisions of the prevention of corruption act in the FIR when even a novice in law could make out that the case was of alleged corruption.

A bench of justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian said, “It is needless to point out that corruption by a public servant is an offence against the state and the society at large. The court cannot deal with cases involving abuse of official position and adoption of corrupt practices, like suits of specific performance, where the refund of the money paid may also satisfy the agreement holder. We hold that the high court was completely in error in quashing the criminal complaint.”

With the minister, other accused and the complainant having arrived at a compromise, an NGO anti-corruption movement had challenged the HC order before a division bench of the Madras high court, claiming that the offences under which the minster was charged – Section 406 and 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), included non-compoundable offences as well.

The high court dismissed the NGO’s plea in March this year against which a separate appeal was moved by the NGO in the apex court.

Deciding the petition by the NGO as also some victims, who paid money but did not get job, the bench said, “The quality of public service rendered by persons who are selected and appointed to posts in the government/public corporations by adopting corrupt practices will be inversely proportionate to the corrupt practices adopted by them.”

Though the accused and the complainants objected to the NGO’s right to file a petition when both parties had compromised, the apex court dismissed their objections as it saw an inherent public interest behind their intervention.

Justice Ramasubramanian, writing the judgment for the bench, said, “The public, who are recipients of these services, also become victims, though indirectly, because the consequences of such appointments get reflected sooner or later in the work performed by the appointees.”

The court was informed that similar complaints filed by other people in the same cash-for-job recruitment in the transport department were stayed by separate orders passed by the high court.

The bench directed the state to take effective steps to vacate the stay. In the present case, the court directed the investigating officer to file the charge sheet and asked the concerned trial court to exercise its power under the code of criminal procedure in the event of any reluctance by the state.

The FIR was registered in August 2018 against Balaji, his brother Ashok Kumar and Shanmugam, his personal assistant among others. Upon investigation, allegations of bribery and cheating were made out. The police found that orders of appointment were issued to 2,209 candidates from the list prepared by the minister.

One of the accused Shanmugam approached the high court to quash the criminal case. The victim (complainant) Arulmani filed an affidavit claiming the case involved a money dispute and had since been settled outside court. He said due to political rivalry, he added more serious charges to his complaint. Later, 13 other victims also filed similar affidavits and this led to the July 30 order passed by the high court last year.

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