In an unprecedented move, the Madras High Court on Thursday passed an order taking exception to the transfer of a case against Minister of Higher Education K Ponmudi from one district court to another, Bar and Bench reported.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh deemed the transfer order illegal.
The case of disproportionate wealth had been transferred from the Villupuram district court to the one in Vellore in July 2022. The order to transfer the case had been passed on the administrative approval given by Munishwar Nath Bhandari, who was then the chief justice of the Madras High Court, and Justices T Raja and V Bhavani Subborayan.
The minister was eventually acquitted by the Vellore district court on June 28, according to Bar and Bench.
On Thursday, Justice Venkatesh decided to review the proceedings in the matter in a “suo motu revision”. In his order, Justice Venkatesh noted that there was “something seriously amiss” in the manner in which the case had been transferred. He also raised doubts on the Vellore district court order to acquit the minister, Live Law reported.
‘Transfer of case illegal’
Justice Venkatesh noted that the case against Ponmudi had been registered in 2002 and the trial was nearing completion in the Villupuram district court in July 2022.
The district judge had asked for permission from the Madras High Court to conduct special sittings during vacation to complete the trial. However, the High Court not only denied permission for the special sittings but also transferred the case to Vellore.
Justice Venkatesh said that this transfer was “illegal and non-est [outside of jurisdiction] in the eye of law”.
The High Court judge also raised questions on how within just four days of the arguments concluding in the Velllore district court on June 23, Judge N Vasanthaleela penned a 227-page order acquitting the minister.
“Two days thereafter, on June 30...the principal district judge, Vellore retired and cheerfully rode off into the sunset,” Venkatesh further noted.