On Thursday, the Madras High Court handed down a three-year prison sentence to Minister Ponmudi in a case related to disproportionate assets. The verdict, delivered accompanied by a Rs 50 lakh fine for both the Minister and his wife, Visalakshi, included a 30-day suspension of the sentence. This decision, announced at 10:30 AM on Thursday, reversed the earlier acquittal by a trial court. The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had appealed the initial ruling, leading to Justice Jayachandran’s recent judgment.
Reports indicate that K. Ponmudy, the Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister, faces a three-year simple imprisonment term in the disproportionate assets case. Both he and his wife have been fined Rs 50 lakhs, with the sentence temporarily suspended for 30 days due to Ponmudy’s current role in the Higher Education department.
During the proceedings, the Minister and his wife presented medical records, emphasizing the age of the case. At 73 and 60 years old, respectively, Ponmudy and his wife highlighted the longstanding nature of the issue.
Justice Jayachandran previously found Ponmudi and Visalakshi guilty of accumulating wealth exceeding their known sources of income by 64.90%. The Minister was held responsible for amassing wealth during his tenure as the Higher Education, Mines, and Mineral Minister between 2006 and 2011.
While the trial court had acquitted the Minister on June 28, 2023, the case underwent thorough investigation by Villupuram District Anti-Corruption SP Kanniyappan, leading to chargesheets filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Initially tried in Villupuram Chief Criminal Court, the case was later transferred to Villupuram Anti-Corruption Special Court in 2015 and finally to Vellore District Principal Sessions Court in 2022.
In response to this week’s verdict, Saravanan Annadurai, a spokesperson for the DMK, expressed that it was a setback for the Higher Education Minister, stating, “This is a setback for Ponmudi. He will lose his MLA-Minister, but we have options in the Supreme Court.”