Saturday, September 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Stay on release extended
Karnataka invites SC’s ire
From A Legal Correspondent
& agencies

NEW DELHI, Sept 1— The Supreme Court today directed continuance of the August 29 stay till further orders on the release and withdrawal of cases against any of the 115 associates of forest brigand Molakkan Veerappan and reprimanded the Karnataka Government, asking it to quit and make room for another government if it was not able to handle the situation.

A three-judge Bench comprising Mr Justice S.P. Bharucha, Mr Justice D.P. Mohapatra and Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal while admitting the special leave petition (SLP) challenging the release and withdrawal of cases by the state said, “Maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the state. Do not bring in political reasons into it.”

A visibly disturbed Mr Justice Bharucha took strong exception to the “coy affidavit” filed by the State government.

When Solicitor-General Harish Salve submitted that grave consequences like linguistic unrest might follow if anything happened to the cine actor, a three-judge Bench headed by Mr Justice S.P. Bharucha firmly retorted, “We make it amply clear that it is Karnataka’s responsibility to maintain law and order”.

“If you (the present government headed by Mr S.M. Krishna) cannot do it, quit and make way for somebody who can do it,” the Bench said.

The court, while staying the release of the accused associates of Veerappan in the Harikrishna-Shakeel Ahmed murder case, admitted the petition challenging the August 19 order of the Special Court which had ordered their release.

“Till the pendency of the petition in the court, none of the accused respondents will be released on bail or otherwise,” the Bench said.

Meanwhile, in a related petition, the court issued notice to the Centre and the Governments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh regarding the way the crisis had been handled so far.

Karnataka bore the brunt of the ire of the Supreme Court, which expressed in no uncertain terms that the state failed for eight long years to nab a forest brigand and now as he had kidnapped a matinee idol, it was trying to tell the court that the liberty of every citizen was paramount.

“What have you done for last eight years? What protection have you given to the people? Such kind of an incident was waiting to happen. Now you say that you cannot do anything. If you cannot, then quit and make way for somebody else who can do it,” the Bench said.

The court said it was negligence on the part of Karnataka not to take effective steps to get the forest brigand and his associates, accused of committing heinous offences, to book. And to compound it, it was now trying to release the bandit’s associates.

“This is compounding negligence upon negligence” the Bench said and added, “We will not be a party to this (release of the accused).”

Solicitor-General Harish Salve explained that kidnapping of Rajkumar was not a question of one person’s liberty but was a more sensitive issue as he represented the linguistic community and warned that there might be civil unrest if something untoward happened.

“If you are concerned for the welfare of your citizens, what did you do for last eight years,” the Bench reiterated even as the state government agreed that it was a lapse on its part not to have arrested Veerappan.

In a separate petition filed by Mr B.L. Wadhera, the court issued notice to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Government. When the court asked why Andhra Pradesh, Mr Wadhera said that the state Chief Minister had asked both the states to resolve the problem as early as possible.

Replying to a query, Mr Salve said, “The state has put itself in the situation has arose, it should do something.”

In a jam-packed court, the vitriolic remarks of the court on mishandling of the situation by the Karnataka Government was heard in pin-drop silence by both the lawyers and several visitors in the gallery.

Today’s order came on the SLP filed by a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr Abdul Karim, who challenged the Mysore Special Judge’s August 19, 2000, order pursuant to an application by the state government for the release of these accused facing trial under TADA on charges of killing former Superintendent of Police Harikrishna and Sub-Inspector Shakeel Ahmed in August, 1992.

The petitioner is the father of Shakeel Ahmed.

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr S.M. Krishna, on Friday admitted that the Supreme court indefinitely staying the release of TADA detainees from Mysore Jail might delay the process of freeing matinee idol Rajkumar and three others from forest brigand Veerappan’s captivity.

Talking to newsmen after the three-judge Supreme Court Bench handed out severe strictures against the government, he said the government would accept the apex court’s order of staying the sessions judge’s ruling granting conditional bail to the 51 detainees, including 12 women. 

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