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Madras High Court; TRAI

Suspend Raghupathi Commission: High Court to Tamil Nadu government

Chennai, Aug 3 (PTI) The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to suspend the Raghupathi Commission of Inquiry, set up by the AIADMK government to probe alleged irregularities in construction of the new secretariat here during the DMK rule.

The court also ordered that further allotment of funds to the commission be stopped till the final disposal of the writ petitions.

Justice S M Subramaniam, who passed the order on a petition filed by the government, seeking to vacate a stay on the functioning of the commission, said, “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.”

“Some commissions of inquiries are appointed for political reasons. However, its continuance, frequent and long extension of the commissions are granted by the state either to dilute the issues or to favour some persons or a group of persons.

“But the ultimate objectives set out for appointing the commissions of inquiries are not only diluted, but completely frustrated,” he said.

The judge said this when petitions from former chief minister M Karunanidhi, challenging the questionnaire by the commission and also challenging summons of his personal appearance, came up before him today.

The judge, after going through details submitted on funds spent in connection with various commissions, said the long extension of this commission was granted only at the government’s request. It had not independently applied its mind for grant of extension and grant of funds, he said.

“The least expected from the state is to ensure that, when the entire functioning of the commission is stayed by the court, then the state is obliged to issue the consequential order, suspending the functioning of the commission until further orders of the high court,” the judge said.

That exercise also had not been done by the state, he said, adding that on the contrary, funds were granted every year, running to more than Rs two crore.

Thus, there was no justification either on the part of the state or the commission to draw salaries, utilise governmental facilities and infrastructure without performing any public duties or responsibilities, he said.

Stressing that whenever such commissions were constituted with respect to certain charges corruption, people became frustrated and lost confidence in such an exercise, he said retired judges appointed as members of such commissions were widely criticised for being biased.

If the commission functioned indefinitely for an unspecified period, then the state had to dissolve it and resolve the issues by law, the judge said.

He then directed the commission and Justice Raghupathi to issue orders to suspend the commission within a week from the date of receipt of a copy of the order and hand over all records, reports of investigating agencies, statements and the evidence collected, to the government within two weeks.

He also directed the government to review functioning of the other four commissions headed by retired judges of Madras High Court and take a decision on its further continuance, dissolving the same or fixing a time limit for submission of report, based on the legal principles settled by the Supreme Court and observations made in this order, within four weeks.

The functioning of the Raghupathy Commission was stayed by the high court on March 12, 2015.

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