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MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday granted conditional anticipatory bail to Madurai Mayor Thenmozhi Gopinathan in a criminal case registered against her by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) on charges of receiving illegal gratification from the encroacher of a Municipal Corporation property at Mathichiyam here.
Justice R.S. Ramanathan directed her to appear before the investigating officer every day for two weeks. He also granted advance bail to Sundararajan, husband of the alleged encroacher S. Rengammal, who was accused of having given a Rs.500 bundle to Corporation Surveyor Gurusamy on January 10, on a similar condition. The judge said that no strong ground existed to deny anticipatory bail.
During arguments, Additional Advocate General (AAG) K. Chellapandian, appearing for the DVAC, vehemently opposed the Mayor's anticipatory bail application on the ground that she might tamper with the records and destroy the evidence. “She is the head of the Corporation. The entire records are in her custody. There is every possibility of suppression of those documents,” he said.
Immediately, the judge asked: “Then, why have the investigating authorities not taken any steps so far to seize the documents from the Corporation? Have you at least issued any notice to the Corporation asking it to submit the relevant documents? Why have you not arrested A8 (surveyor) who is alleged to have received the bribe money from A11 (Sundararajan)?”
Replying to it, the AAG said that the investigation was at a preliminary stage as the case was registered only on July 16 following a directive given by the Chief Judicial Magistrate here. “Only yesterday, the investigating officials inspected the land and confirmed the encroachment. Even the corporation officials themselves have admitted the encroachment and removed a part of it,” he added.
Subsequently, the complainant in the case, M. Jeyaram, an advocate, who had filed an intervening petition objecting to the grant of anticipatory bail to the Mayor, stated that he had initially made a complaint to the Mayor and the Corporation Commissioner last year about the alleged encroachment of the land by his neighbour Rengammal and her husband since 2008. The Corporation did not take any tangible action; he said and alleged that he was also misled by the officials by stating that the encroachment had been removed. “On January 10, 2011, the surveyor received the money in front of me and others. He also asked me why am I bothered when the encroachment is only on Corporation land and not on my land,” Mr. Jeyaram said.
However, the judge wondered why the advocate didn't complain this immediately to police. He pointed out that no allegation about receiving of bribe was made in the first complaint sent by the advocate to the police on February 5 this year. “You are an advocate, not an ordinary person. You must have done it. Now, you can say so many things after the lapse of time,” he said.
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