Stalin defends seeking stay on Secretariat building probe

Chennai: DMK president M K Stalin Thursday defended his party obtaining court stay against the probe into alleged irregularities in the construction of a building complex during his party’s rule to house the secretariat, saying the allegations were fabricated.

A day after Chief Minister K Palaniswami hit out at DMK for obtaining a stay from the Madras High Court, Stalin claimed there were no corruption allegations, not even irregularities in the construction. “They (AIADMK government) said it was excessive expenditure. These allegations are fabricated,” he said.

It was their right to approach the court and since “justice,” was on their side, the court had granted a stay, Stalin said. The DMK leader, addressing a party event at Madurantakam near here, however, said his party was ready to face any case on the matter Stalin, who is the leader of the opposition, said since the Palaniswami government did not have the guts to appeal against the stay, he had “lamented” on the issue.

Addressing an AIADMK meet on Wednesday, Palaniswami wondered why the main opposition party went on seeking stays on the secretariat matter if it was upright and had done no wrong. “Why are you doing it?…does it not mean that there is something fishy…people are learned and they know have something to fear,” the Chief Minister had alleged.

Stalin said Palaniswami should have resigned after the Madras High Court recently ordered a CBI probe into alleged graft in the award of contracts by the highways, a portfolio held by the Chief Minister. Rather than doing it, Palaniswami had sought only to divert the issue, Stalin charged.

The Justice R Reghupathy Commission of Inquiry was set up in 2011 by former chief minister, late J Jayalalithaa, to look into alleged irregularities into the construction of the secretariat complex. Late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi had, however, obtained a stay against it in 2013.

Called ‘new secretariat,’ the building was refashioned into a super speciality hospital after AIADMK assumed power in 2011. The Commission was wound up in August after a High Court directive. The court had, however, said the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption may launch prosecution if a prima facie case was made out against public servants and government officials in the secretariat construction.

Following this, when the DVAC was given the go-ahead by the government to probe the matter, Stalin filed a plea in the high court seeking quashing of a government order and a letter in this regard that accorded sanction for probe. Party treasurer Duraimurugan too had filed a similar plea since he was the public works minister during the period of construction and both the pleas are pending before the court.

On 12 October, Justice A D Jagadish Chandira had ordered a CBI probe against Palaniswami. The matter relates to a plea by DMK leader R S Bharathi to the DVAC seeking probe on the award of contracts.

The DVAC had told the high court that its inquiry based on DMK’s petition revealed no cognizable offence. Justice Chandira had said the court was not satisfied with the agency’s report and tasked the CBI with a probe.