Misappropriation of funds case: Periyar University VC gets big reprieve as Madras HC stays police probe

"The allegations made in the FIR and the materials that have been placed before this court by the investigation agency, do not make out any offence," the judge said
Periyar University | (Pic: Periyar University)
Periyar University | (Pic: Periyar University)

Finding that a case of misappropriation of funds was not made out against the Periyar University Vice-Chancellor R Jagannathan through the materials placed before the court, the Madras High Court on January 19, Friday, stayed the Police investigation into the matter for four weeks. The interim order was passed by Justice N Anand Venkatesh on a petition filed by Jagannathan seeking to quash the FIR registered by the Karuppur police, in Salem district, regarding funds misappropriation by floating the controversial Periyar University Technological Research (PUTER) Foundation and caste abuse, stated a report by The New Indian Express.

"The allegations made in the FIR and the materials that have been placed before this court by the investigation agency, do not make out any offence," he said, adding the allegations are to the effect that an attempt is being made to use the company for misappropriation of money. "However, there is absolutely no material to show that money was transferred or misappropriated by the accused persons," the judge noted. 

Additionally, he added, "Even the statement recorded by the Police from the entities, with whom, the MoU has been entered into, shows that there was no money transferred by anyone." He further trashed the allegation of caste abuse against the complainant Elangovan saying that it 'comes out of the blue' without any context and such an allegation was to 'add spice to the complaint' to make it sound more serious.

"In the instant case, considering the materials placed, this court finds that the criminal prosecution has been instituted with an ulterior motive," Justice Anand Venkatesh held. He ignored the repeated requests made by Additional Public Prosecutor A Damodharan seeking a short accommodation to enable the Advocate General to argue the case and present more materials, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express.

However, the judge said the matter is being adjourned for four weeks. Later, when Advocate General PS Raman appeared, the judge said the prosecution could file a vacate stay petition and therein place all the materials on its hand. He added, "I don't find any criminality at all (against the VC)." 

Senior counsel A Natarajan appeared for the VC in the court. Jagannathan was arrested by the Karuppur police on December 26 based on the FIR registered against him for allegedly misappropriating funds by establishing the PUTER Foundation and signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with private persons without obtaining prior permission from the Syndicate and the Government. 

Additionally, he was also charged under sections of the SC/ST (PoA) Act (Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act) for caste abuse against the complainants. However, the judicial magistrate released him on interim bail, The New Indian Express reported. 

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