There is no need to obtain prior sanction of the Legislative Assembly Secretariat or the Chief Government Whip before initiating criminal action against a Minister for alleged illegalities committed by him in his private capacity, the Madras High Court has ruled.
Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy held so, while disposing of a writ appeal filed by two individuals who had accused Commercial Taxes Minister K.C. Veeramani of attempting to dispossess them of a property reportedly worth 225 crore.
The complainants claimed that the Minister was acting at the behest of popular businessman J. Sekhar Reddy, and was threatening them to part with 6.9 acres of prime land in Vellore town. They also accused him of trying to evict them from the property using illegal force.
The complainants, B. Ramamoorthy and J. Jayaprakash, had initially filed a writ petition in the High Court in 2018, seeking a direction to the Assembly Secretary and the Chief Government Whip to consider a representation made by them for action against the Minister.
The petitioners wanted Mr. Veeramani to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, the Minister filed a detailed counter affidavit, denying all allegations levelled against him. He specifically refuted the charge of misuse of his office.
After hearing both sides, a single judge of the High Court dismissed their petition on June 22, leading to the present appeal. Authoring the judgment for the first Division Bench, Justice Ramamoorthy said the allegations against the Minister were not related to discharge of his official duties.
Since the appellants were only aggrieved against his alleged private acts in relation to a property transaction, there was no need to obtain sanction of the Assembly Secretariat to launch prosecution for the alleged offences committed by the Minister, the Bench clarified.