Chennai: The Madras High Court declined to quash an FIR filed against founder-chancellor T R Pachamuthu of SRM University in connection with a multi-crore medical admission scam.
Pachamuthu’s counsel V T Gopalan had sought the quashing of the FIR against him, saying the as the complainants had agreed to withdraw their plant, the high court was bound to quash the FIR by exercising its powers under the CrPC as the offences were compoundable.
Compoundable offences are those offences where the complainant (one who has filed the case, i.e. the victim), enters into a compromise and agrees to have the charges dropped against the accused.
Justice MS Ramesh, before whom the matter came up for hearing, directed the police to complete the probe into the case and file a final report within eight weeks in the trial court.
The judge, however, noted that the complainants had agreed to withdraw their complaints in view of the fact that the amount parted by them for securing medical seats would be returned as a consequence of such withdrawal.
Hence, it cannot be said that the claimants have voluntarily agreed to withdraw their complaints, he noted.
The alleged offences against Pachamuthu and Madhan were serious and not private in nature and had a serious impact on the society, the judge noted.
Pachamuthu, who along with film producer Madhan of ‘Vendhar Movies’ was allegedly involved in the admission scam.
The matter related to complaints filed with the police by parents of medical aspirants alleging that they paid huge money to secure medical seats in the SRM Medical College in 2016. The money was paid allegedly to Pachamuthu through Madhan by 136 aspirants seeking medical seats.
However, the seats were not given as promised and Madhan had absconded leaving behind a suicide note. He was later traced and arrested.
Pachamuthu was also arrested in the case and was released on bail after he deposited Rs 75 crore and furnished Rs 10 crore bank guarantee in the trial court.
The judge in his interim order said a larger question in the case was as to how the college management was justified in collecting exorbitant money for the medical seats.
This aspect needed to be further probed, the judge said and noted that Pachamuthu too had not disputed the payments made by the claimants.
The judge appointed a former chief justice, Jammu and Kashmir High Court, N Paul Vasanthakumar as commissioner to disburse money to 136 claimants.
The money would have to be disbursed out of the Rs 85 crore deposited by Pachamuthu with the trial court.
The total amount due to 136 aspirants as per the preliminary investigation report was Rs 85,58,30,000 as against the claim of Rs 92,44,80,000.
The amount claimed by the claimants was accepted as correct and true as per the submission of counsel for Pachamuthu, the judge said.
Justice Ramesh said whether the FIR had to be quashed was a crucial point to be addressed. As regards who had collected money from students or their parents was a matter under probe.
It would, hence, be inappropriate for the court to step into the shoes of investigating officer and render findings, the judge said.
This is so in view of the probe which revealed that at least seven claimants had met Pachamuthu and they had given money to Madhan on the former’s direction.
Also, Madhan had given a statement that money which was collected was handed over to Pachamuthu, the judge said and declined to countenance the submission that the complaint implicated only Madhan.