Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court has stated that he will not recuse himself from hearing criminal revision cases of corruption suo motu filed against Tamil Nadu ministers, both past and present.
The judge made the statement while hearing a suo motu case against DMK ministers Thangam Thennarasu and KKSSR Ramachandranon Wednesday, 20 September. The ministers’ counsel had requested the judge to recuse himself from hearing the case.
The counsels for the ministers, A Ramesh and NR Elango, submitted that only the chief justice of the high court could decide on who should hear the suo motu cases, as he is the master of the roster.
Intervening, Justice Venkatesh stated that he took all six suo motu cases with the permission of the chief justice.
When the petitioners’ counsels pointed out that the observations made in the suo motu case were prejudiced, Justice Venkatesh overruled the argument, asking why his orders in all suo motu cases were not challenged before the Supreme Court.
Further, the judge directed the registry to provide the case-related documents to the petitioners. He then adjourned Ramachandran’s case to 2 November and Thennarasu’s case to 6 November.
‘Suo motu case not by an individual judge’
While hearing a suo motu revision case against Minister Ponmudi earlier, Justice Venkatesh had observed that suo motu revision cases were exercised not by one judge but by the high court as an institution, to ensure that the streams of criminal justice were not subverted and remained pure and unsullied.
He further said that the decision to initiate suo motu cases should be viewed as an institutional action and not the action of any particular judge.
In the cases of Thennarasu and Ramachandran, investigating officer (Vigilance and Anti-Corruption) K Ramachandran had submitted an intimation before the special court seeking further investigation into the graft cases under Section 173(8) of the CrPC.
After further investigation, the officer filed a closure report in both cases stating that no offence had been made out of the case.
The special court accepted the final closure report and discharged the accused in the exercise of powers under Section 239 CrPC.