Chennai, Sep 17 The Madras High Court Monday directed the Advocate General to file a detailed report on the formation of committees on awarding contracts, as it resumed hearing on the DMK plaint seeking a DVAC probe against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami.
Justice Jagadeesh Chandira asked Advocate General (AG) Vijay Narayan to submit the detailed report by September 24.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader R S Bharathi alleged that the guidelines on award of contracts were violated by Palaniswami, who is the chairman of the empowered committee to award contracts.
On September 12, the court had directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to file a report on the day-to-day preliminary investigation conducted by it against Palaniswami on the complaint filed against him in the award of contracts.
It had asked the state government whether DVAC officials have concluded that no offence was made out in the corruption plaint filed by Bharathi.
The judge passed the interim order on the plea by Bharathi who alleged that Palaniswami had abused his power and allotted highway projects worth Rs 3,500 crore to his relatives and 'benamis'.
When the hearing resumed, the AG submitted the status report in a sealed cover.
According to the World Bank guidelines, it is clearly mentioned that no person who is related to any of the members of the committee should be awarded any contract, counsel for Bharathi said.
The DMK leader has alleged various irregularities and corruption in awarding of road contracts by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Counsel for Bharathi alleged that there was a clear violation of the guidelines issued by the World Bank in connection with awarding of contracts.
The AG submitted that even if one assumed there were violations, there cannot be any "criminal proceedings" but only "civil proceedings".
On the allegations that the contracts were given to the relatives of the chief minister, the AG said the contractor against whom the "allegation is made that he is Palaniswami's relative, was already awarded many contracts for several years" and "he is not a new man".
Responding to this, the counsel for Bharathi said the same person cannot be allotted many contracts for several years and would become ineligible for getting contracts according to the World Bank guidelines, once conflict of interest arises.
Pointing out the definition of illegality in the Prevention of Corruption Act, Bharathi's counsel said, "Illegality will also include civil wrong".
The judge asked the AG to file a detailed report on the formation of steering/empowered committees, when were they formed and to whom and when the contracts were awarded.
This apart, the judge directed the AG to inform the court about the total amount the contractors have been paid.
The judge posted further hearing on September 26.
Earlier, the DMK leader had moved an additional plea seeking to transfer the probe to an independent investigating team, since DVAC was technically under the chief minister.
Narayan had submitted that technically the plea has become infructuous since the DVAC had completed the preliminary investigation and forwarded its report to the vigilance commissioner.
COR BN SRY