The Madras High Court on Monday issued notice to the CBI on a plea seeking probe by an independent agency into the allegations of bribing voters of R K Nagar constituency by AIADMK during the 2017 bypoll.
The court found fault with the police for not mentioning the names of the accused in the first information report though names of three people were referred in the complaint by the returning officer in connection with the alleged malpractices ahead of the April 12 bypoll, leading to its cancellation.
A division bench, comprising Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice P Rajamanickam, issued the notice returnable by January 10, 2019, to all the authorities concerned in connection with the petitions seeking a CBI inquiry.
The court had earlier asked the Tamil Nadu government whether it had challenged its single judge order quashing an FIR related to alleged distribution of cash to the voters.
The bench was hearing petitions by M P Vairakannan and then DMK nominee Marudu Ganesh, who had initially sought registration of the FIR.
"The investigating officer has submitted in the status report that they had so far examined 882 witnesses and recorded their statements. But even then, they claim that the accused are still unidentifiable," the bench said.
The matter relates to searches and seizure of documents by the Income Tax department in various places on April 7, 2017 allegedly related to bribing of voters, which led to the cancellation of the polls then.
On a direction by the Election Commission, the returning officer of the constituency lodged a police complaint on April 27, based on which the FIR was registered.
Tiruvallur AIADMK MLA Narasimhan had filed a plea seeking quashing of the FIR.
After going through the submission of the Public Prosecutor A Natarajan who submitted that 882 witnesses were examined in the above case, the bench said, "Had you informed the fact that even after examining 882 witnesses you were unable to identify the accused, the single judge would not have quashed the FIR."
The bench, while referring to the quashed petition, also observed, "We do not understand how the petition was even numbered by the registry when the de facto complainant was not made a party to the plea."
"Any person can set the criminal law in motion, but to move a quash petition they must have locus standi. When the accused column in the FIR is mentioned as unidentified persons on what locus standi the petitioner moved the plea," the bench said.
Though the public prosecutor sought two more weeks for submitting status report, the bench declined.
The bench then issued notices to government pleader in-charge Jayaprakash Narayan, the ECI, Income Tax department and Public Prosecutor A Natarajan and the CBI.