Justice R Raghupathi, heading a commission of inquiry tasked with probing the alleged irregularities in constructing a new building to house the state secretariat during the previous DMK regime, has tendered his resignation.
Justice R Raghupathi, heading a commission of inquiry tasked with probing the alleged irregularities in constructing a new building to house the state secretariat during the previous DMK regime, has tendered his resignation. A week after the Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to suspend the panel, Justice Raghupathi sent a communication to the state chief secretary on August 13, apprising her that he had demitted office, effective August 10. In an eight-page letter to the chief secretary, Justice Raghupathi said the commission’s functioning was delayed due to the administration side of the high court.
A new secretariat building was constructed during the DMK’s 2006-2011 regime and the AIADMK government had set up the commission after coming to power in 2011. The former Madras High Court judge said the panel was directed by the high court in 2015 not to proceed further with the matter till a writ petition in this connection was disposed of. He also handed over to the secretary of the commission a sports utility vehicle (SUV), which was given to him by the government, a computer and a printer. On August 3, the high court had directed the state government to suspend the Justice R Raghupathi Commission of inquiry within a week and stop all further allotment of funds and government facilities to it.
Justice Raghupathi said soon after assuming office on December 3, 2011, he had launched an inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the construction of the giant structure. The commission had sent summons to public servants and 24 IAS officers and Public Works Department (PWD) engineers had appeared before it. Summons were also issued to then chief minister late M Karunanidhi, then deputy chief minister M K Stalin and then PWD minister Duraimurugan. On a writ petition filed by the public servants, the high court had in 2014 ordered that the petitioners need not appear before the commission and allowed the panel to send questionnaires to them.
Hearing the second batch of writ petitions, along with stay petitions, the high court had in 2015 ordered the commission not to proceed further with the matter till the writ petition was disposed of. Though the advocate general had requested the court for an early hearing of the writ petitions to enable the commission to proceed with the task, the plea was rejected. Against this background, the matter came up before Justice S M Subramaniam, who directed the suspension of the commission.
“This court is of an opinion that the commission was constituted and prolonged for an unspecified period in order to neutralise the sensitiveness of the issues involved and to divert the attention of the people,” the court had said. Raghupathi said even before hearing the arguments of the counsels, several unwarranted oral comments were made as if there was an intentional delay by all the commissions of inquiry and as if public money was being wasted.