Ponmudy sworn in as Minister by Governor Ravi, a day after SC nudge

Ponmudy Sworn in as Tamil Nadu Minister for Higher Education
Guv accepts Stalin's recommendation, Ponmudy to rejoin TN cabine
Guv accepts Stalin's recommendation, Ponmudy to rejoin TN cabine

Chennai |Senior DMK leader K Ponmudy was on Friday sworn in as Minister by Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, a day after the Supreme Court's nudge.

About three months after he lost his post following his conviction by the Madras High Court on 19 December 2023 in a disproportionate assets case, Ponmudy is now again the Tamil Nadu Minister for Higher Education.

In a simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, Ravi administered the oath of office and secrecy to Ponmudy in the presence of Chief Minister M K Stalin and a couple of other Ministers including Udhayanidhi Stalin and Ma Subramanian.

Ponmudy was assigned higher education portfolio, which was briefly held by Backward Classes Minister R S Rajakannappan.

The subject of Khadi and Village Industries Board held previously by Rajakannappan has been restored to him.

R Gandhi had held the subject of Khadi in addition to his portfolio Handlooms and Textiles.

In December, consequent to Ponmudy's conviction portfolios were reshuffled.

Ponmudy's swearing-in as Minister marks the end of a face-off between Stalin and Ravi. While Stalin had on March 13 written to Ravi to swear-in Ponmudy as Minister and allot him higher education, it was declined by Governor who said Ponmudy's conviction had only been suspended and not set aside. Following this, the DMK regime approached the Supreme Court.

Hearing the matter, the apex court expressed "serious concern" over the conduct of Governor Ravi as he refused to reinduct Ponmudi even after it suspended his conviction. The Supreme Court directed him to decide the issue within 24 hours.

Observing that Ravi was defying the top court's order, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud wondered how can the governor say that Ponmudy's reinduction will be against constitutional morality.

"Mr Attorney General, we are seriously concerned about the conduct of the governor. We did not want to say it out loud in court but he is defying the Supreme Court of India. Those who have advised him have not advised him properly. Now the governor has to be informed that when the Supreme Court stays a conviction, it stays a conviction," the apex court bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, told AG R Venkataramani.

"If we do not hear from your person tomorrow, we will pass an order directing the governor to act according to the Constitution. we will pass an order," the bench had told the AG.

Raising technical objections to Tamil Nadu's plea, Venkataramani had said the application (against the governor's refusal to reinstate Ponmudy) has been moved as an interlocutory application in a pending writ petition raising a different issue on bills cleared by the state legislature but pending with the Raj Bhavan.

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