The Hindu (Mumbai)

SC stays conviction of T.N. former Minister Ponmudy

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The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the conviction and threeyear prison sentence of former Tamil Nadu Minister and senior DMK leader K. Ponmudy in a disproport­ionate assets case. A Bench headed by Justice A.S. Oka also stayed the sentence of his wife, P. Visalakshi, in the case.

The order paves the way for Mr. Ponmudy’s return as a legislator.

The Supreme Court, in a chamber hearing in January, had granted the couple exemption from surrenderi­ng following the Madras High Court judgment.

The couple were represente­d by senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Siddharth Luthra. Advocate D. Kumanan appeared for the State of Tamil Nadu.

The High Court had reversed the trial court’s decision to acquit them in April 2016.

The case relates to the charge that Mr. Ponmudy and his wife had amassed wealth disproport­ionate to their known sources of income when he held the portfolio of higher education and mines in the DMK regime between 2006 and 2011. The Directorat­e of Vigilance and AntiCorrup­tion registered the case after the AIADMK came to power in May 2011.

The petitioner­s argued that the High Court had wrongly overturned the acquittal by the trial court. They had submitted that the High Court erred in clubbing the assets of Mr. Ponmudy and his wife to determine the “property disproport­ionate”.

“It is prima facie apparent that his wife, who is not a public servant, is wellqualif­ied, is a separate entity/individual who holds several assets and is running companies having separate sources of income even prior to the check period,” their petition argued. The petition had said it was not “legally permissibl­e to club the income of a public servant with the income of the spouse who is holding agricultur­al land measuring 26 acres and business with several crores of rupees’ turnover”.

“She is earning independen­tly... She is an income tax assessee as an independen­t individual... Her income and property are multifold than the property and income of Mr. Ponmudy,” it had contended.

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K. Ponmudy

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