The State government on Tuesday informed the Madras High Court of its decision to withdraw two writ appeals it had filed in 2019 against incumbent Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan. The appeals had been filed during the AIADMK regime against the quashing of a DVAC inquiry into alleged irregularities in the construction of a new Assembly-cum-Secretariat complex between 2008 and 2010.
Appearing before a Division Bench of Justices D. Krishnakumar and P.B. Balaji, Advocate-General R. Shunmugasundaram said the Government Pleader had sent a letter to Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court as early as on July 13, 2023 with a request to list the appeals for withdrawal. Subsequently, on July 24, 2023, former AIADMK MP J. Jayavardhan filed an impleading petition due to a political motive, he said.
The A-G said the issue was between the State and the court, and therefore, a third party had no locus standi to get impleaded in the appeals. He urged the court to let the State government withdraw the appeal. Senior Counsel P. Wilson, representing Mr. Stalin and Mr. Duraimurugan, also made a similar request and cited a Supreme Court judgment to contend that even the courts could not prevent a litigant from withdrawing an appeal.
After a preliminary hearing, the Division Bench decided to take a call on the impleading petition on September 26. When the AIADMK returned to power in 2011, pursuant to a five-year DMK regime, it constituted a Commission of Inquiry, headed by Madras High Court retired judge S. Thangaraj, to probe alleged irregularities in the construction of the Secretariat complex, now housing the Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital, at Omandurar Estate in Chennai.
After his resignation, the government appointed retired judge R. Regupathy on December 2, 2011 as the head of the Commission of Inquiry. In 2014, former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Mr. Stalin and Mr. Duraimurugan filed individual writ petitions challenging the constitution of the commission and obtained interim orders. However, on August 3, 2018, Justice S.M. Subramaniam directed the government to suspend the commission since it had not made any headway.
Subsequently, Karunanidhi died on August 7, 2018, and the then government, led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami, issued a Government Order on September 24, 2018 for a DVAC inquiry into the alleged irregularities. Mr. Stalin and Mr. Duraimurugan challenged the G.O. since they had served as Deputy Chief Minister and Public Works Minister, respectively, during the construction of the Secretariat.
Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana (since retired) of the High Court allowed their writ petition and quashed the G.O. on December 13, 2018, leading to the filing of the present writ appeals by the State in 2019.