Tamil Nadu: Minister K Ponmudy Disqualified After Madras HC Sentences Him & Wife To 3 Years Rigorous Imprisonment In Corruption Case

Tamil Nadu: Minister K Ponmudy Disqualified After Madras HC Sentences Him & Wife To 3 Years Rigorous Imprisonment In Corruption Case

Ponmudy's disqualification took effect under Section 8(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

N ChithraUpdated: Thursday, December 21, 2023, 05:59 PM IST
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K Ponmudy |

Chennai: Tamil Nadu senior minister K Ponmudy on Thursday lost his Higher Education portfolio and stood disqualified as a legislator after the Madras High Court sentenced him and his wife Visalakshi to undergo three years simple imprisonment in a 12-year old corruption case.

Following the verdict, on the recommendation of Chief Minister MK Stalin, Governor RN Ravi reallocated Ponmudy's portfolios to RS Rajakannappan, Minister for Backward Classes Welfare. The Khadi and Village Industries portfolio, held additionally by Rajakannappan, were allotted to Handlooms Minister R Gandhi.

Ponmudy's disqualification took effect under Section 8(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Disqualification for legislators accused of committing offenses

As per this provision, if a legislator is imprisoned for select offences, then he/she would be disqualified from the date of conviction till the entire term of imprisonment and also for a further period of six years from the date of release from prison.

Justice Jayachandran had on Tuesday set aside a April 2016 trial court order acquitting the accused in a case registered by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. The agency had booked a case against the couple under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and other sections when Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister during 2011-16.

The High Court, on an appeal from the DVAC, held Ponmudy and his wife guilty of amassing wealth to the tune of Rs 1.79 crore, disproportionate to their known sources of income, when he was a Minister in the M Karunanidhi Cabinet during 2006-10.

On Thursday Justice Jayachandran heard Ponmudy and Visalakshi, and awarded them the jail term. Besides, he imposed fine of ₹50 lakh each on both of them. Failing to pay the penalty would attract an additional six months of simple imprisonment.

However, the judge, suspended their sentence for 30 days to enable them to prefer an appeal before the Supreme Court.

Justice Jayachandran held that the trial court’s acquittal order was “palpably wrong, manifestly erroneous and demonstrably unsustainable.”

HC rules out trial court's judgement on the case

On Tuesday, he had said: “This court finds that the trial court, on superficial reading of the evidence, had proceeded with the process of decision making on the premise that A1 and A2 are separate entities and they both cannot be clubbed together. This is basically a fallacious approach by the trial court. The trial court has failed to understand that the substance of charge against A2 is that she being the wife of A1 (public servant) was holding the assets of A1 which he had acquired through unknown source. Whether, the lack of capital/source to yield income proportionate to the properties acquired in the name of A2 during the check period is the point which ought to have been first examined by the trial court. Instead, it has ignored all the material evidence placed by the prosecution to show that the business and the agricultural land of A2 had not yielded income sufficient to acquire the wealth held in her name."

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