The Madras High Court on Thursday reopened a corruption case in which former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister OP Panneerselvam had been acquitted in 2012, Bar and Bench reported.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh directed Panneerselvam and the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to respond by September 27 to a notice issued by the court.

This is the fourth instance over the last few weeks that Justice Venkatesh has initiated proceedings to revisit acquittals of political leaders. Venkatesh is the portfolio judge for all courts in Tamil Nadu hearing cases against MPs and MLAs.

On August 10, he had declared illegal an order passed by the High Court allowing the transfer of a case against sitting Minister of Higher Education K Ponmudi. On August 23, he reopened another case in which ministers KKSSR Ramachandran and Thangam Thenarasu had been acquitted of charges of holding assets disproportionate to their incomes.

Case against Panneerselvam

The case dates back to Panneerselvam’s tenure as the revenue minister of Tamil Nadu between 2001 and 2006, and as chief minister between 2001 and 2002, Live Law reported.

In 2006, when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam came to power in Tamil Nadu, Panneerselvam was charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act. A report filed before the chief judicial magistrate of a special court in Theni district alleged that Panneerselvam held disproportionate assets amounting to 374% of known sources of income.

However, after the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam retained power in 2011 and Panneerselvam became the finance minister, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption filed a closure report in the case. Panneerselvam, his wife and all other accused persons in the case were discharged in 2012, according to Bar and Bench.

In his order on Thursday, Justice Venkatesh noted that the “modus operandi is now all too obvious”.

“When a political party comes to power in Tamil Nadu, DVAC [Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption] swoops down on the opposition and clamps down on cases of corruption,” the order stated. “However, no prosecution for corruption ends in five years...Invariably, opposition is voted back to power and DVAC, like puppets in Muppets show, will have to perform a different tune...”