New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed two former DMK ministers in Tamil Nadu to face trial for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets during 1996-2001.
N Suresh Rajan and K Ponmudi, who were ministers in M Karunanidhi government at that time, have been directed to appear on February 3 before the trial court which shall proceed with the trial from the stage of charge.
A bench of justices Chandramauli K Prasad and M Y Eqbal set aside December 10, 2010 order of the Madras High Court by which Rajan and Ponmudi were discharged from the case.
The High Court had reversed the September 25, 2009, decision of the trial court which had refused to discharge them from the case.
Rajan was the state Minister of Tourism and was accused of possessing disproportionate wealth to the tune of Rs 23.77 lakh in the name of his parents, sister and brother-in-law.
Ponmudi, the then state Minister of Transport, is also accused of possessing disproportionate wealth to the tune of Rs 3.08 crore in the name of his family and friends who were trsutees of an educational trust.
The bench asked the trial court to try to dispose of the trial expeditiously.
The AIADMK government had moved the Supreme Court after a delay of 1,954 days since the then DMK government did not find it a fit case to appeal against the discharge.
The apex court, while hearing the appeal, dismissed the plea of the ministers that the same is barred by limitation of time and mere change of government would not be sufficient to condone the inordinate delay.
It considered it unwise to dismiss the petitions on the ground of limitation.
While passing the judgement, the apex court held that the "the fact that the accused other than the two Ministers have been assessed to income tax and paid income tax cannot be relied upon to discharge the accused persons particularly in view of the allegation made by the prosecution that there was no separate income to amass such huge properties."