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DMK legislator convicted, disqualified

Coimbatore, April 17: A CBI court today convicted DMK Rajya Sabha MP T.M. Selvaganapathy of corruption in the cremation shed scam case and sentenced him to two years imprisonment, a move that will disqualify him as an MP from the date of conviction.

Along with Selvaganapathy, the court convicted four others, including two IAS officers — V. Acharyulu and P. Sathiamurthy.

Selvaganapathy, who joined the DMK in 2008 and was sent to the Rajya Sabha, was the local administration minister in the Jayalalithaa government between 1991 and 1996 when the scam came to light. He was accused of corruption in building cremation sheds for Dalits under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, a centrally-funded scheme.

A consumer activist had filed a petition in Madras High Court seeking a CBI enquiry stating that there had been a massive fraud in the implementation of the scheme in Madurai.

The high court directed district collector M. Umashankar to probe the complaint and file an affidavit. The collector in his report said the allegations were true and that in many cases money had been paid to contractors although no shed had been constructed.

The high court then directed the CBI to treat the IAS officer’s affidavit as a complaint and probe the matter. The CBI chargesheeted Selvaganapathy, three IAS officers and four others under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

One IAS officer, Sampath, was discharged as he was not posted in the district when the scam took place. Two others died during the trial.

Selvaganapathy will now lose his seat in line with a Supreme Court order disqualifying convicted legislators.

Under Sections 8 (1) (2) and (3) of the RP Act, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for varying terms shall be disqualified from the date of conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years after release.

In case of corruption, the disqualification applies if the sentence is two years and above, which is Selvaganapathy’s case.

The apex court had recently struck down a provision of the RP Act that exempted sitting MPs and MLAs from disqualification if they challenged their conviction within three months of a verdict in a lower court.

Selvaganapthy, a JNU graduate, is already fighting his conviction in the colour TV scam for which he was sentenced to five years in jail. The case was filed by the DMK government in 1996 and included Jayalalithaa as an accused. However, a special trial court acquitted her.