On Tuesday, the High Court of Madras delivered a significant verdict, convicting Tamil Nadu minister K Ponmudy and his wife, P Visalatchi, in a long-standing disproportionate assets case. The court’s decision comes as a reversal of their previous acquittal, dating back to the period between 1996 and 2001.
The case against Ponmudy revolves around allegations of acquiring properties that are inconsistent with his known sources of income during his tenure as the state’s transport minister in the earlier Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government. Following the change in power to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in 2002, the Directorate of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption (DVAC) initiated an investigation and booked him.
However, the journey towards justice has been a lengthy one. In 2014, the Supreme Court set aside Ponmudy’s exoneration, highlighting flaws in the appraisal of evidence against him. Eventually, charges were framed against Ponmudy in 2015. The trial itself was transferred from Villupuram to Vellore, where Ponmudy and his wife were later acquitted.
Reopening the case on August 10, Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court took up suo moto revisions of acquittals involving several politicians, including ministers. Subsequently, Justice G Jayachandran heard the case after a roster change.
The recent verdict marks a turning point, as Justice Jayachandran found the couple guilty and directed them to appear before the court for the pronouncement of the sentence on Thursday. It is a crucial reminder that justice can persist even when faced with complex legal proceedings.
The legal battle surrounding Ponmudy’s case has garnered attention not only for its significance at the state level but also for the involvement of the highest judicial authorities. The Apex Court’s rejection of the couple’s pleas against Justice Venkatesh handling the case highlights the integrity of the judiciary in upholding fairness and ensuring that facts are objectively examined.