The Madras High Court on Friday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into claims that a department run by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami illegally awarded government contracts, ANI reported. The court was hearing a petition filed by the Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The petition claimed there were irregularities in the contracts awarded by the state highways department. The court asked the investigating agency to submit a preliminary report within three months, News 18 reported. The High Court also ordered the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, which was investigating the case, to share its data with the CBI.

The directorate had submitted a report to the court in September saying there was no prima facie evidence against Palaniswami.

In July, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin submitted a memorandum to Governor Banwarilal Purohit demanding an investigation into claims that the Tamil Nadu chief minister illegally allotted contracts to a construction firm. The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam refuted the allegations against Palaniswami and described them as “baseless and unfounded”, PTI reported.

Stalin had cited Income Tax Department raids on a highway construction firm for alleged tax evasion amounting to over Rs 160 crore. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam said the state government had violated the law by assigning contracts to three firms “controlled by persons who have close connections” with Palaniswami.