In a significant development, Tamil Nadu Minister for Higher Education K Ponmudy, a key figure in the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has been sentenced to three years in prison in a disproportionate assets case.
The Madras High Court delivered the verdict under the Prevention of Corruption Act, with Ponmudi participating via video-conferencing.
As per reports by The New Indian Express, the court has granted a 30-day suspension of the sentence, allowing the minister and his wife, P Visalakshi, to appeal in the Supreme Court.
Ponmudi, a prominent DMK leader, faces automatic disqualification from the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly due to the three-year sentence, rendering him ineligible to contest elections for six years.
The case centers on allegations that Ponmudi amassed Rs 1.72 crore, 64.90 per cent more than his known sources of income during his tenure as Minister for Higher Education, Mines, and Minerals from 2006 to 2011.
The conviction follows a 2011 FIR by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), and despite being acquitted in 2016, the DVAC filed an appeal in 2017.
Justice G Jayachandran, overseeing the case, criticised the trial court's decisions and deemed the acquittal as "palpably wrong and manifestly erroneous."
The sentencing adds a notable chapter to Tamil Nadu's political landscape, with Ponmudi becoming the second top leader to face Legislative Assembly disqualification in recent years.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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