|Wednesday, October 18, 2000,
SC grills govts on Veerappan
NEW DELHI, Oct 17 — The Supreme Court today, during resumed hearing of the Veerappan case, expressed distress at the mishandling of the entire affair by the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments and said the onus lay on them to explain how the forest brigand had not been apprehended for the past 10 years.
The three-judge bench comprising Mr Justice S.P. Bharuchas, Mr Justice D.P. Mohapatra and Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal categorically stated that unless bonafide reasons were provided for mishandling the forest brigand, “it would be hard to convince us about the decision taken by the government for the benefit of the associates of Veerappan. In that eventuality, the court can go to any extent.”
The judges directed the Chennai designated court to forward to it forthwith all papers and proceedings relating to the withdrawal of TADA charges against Radio Venkatasan, one of the accused against whom charges were withdrawn by the Tamil Nadu government.
The judges further directed the Registrar-General of the Madras High Court to ensure compliance of this order.
The court gave the above observations when one of the public interest petitioners, Dr B.L. Wadehra, alleged that both states had made no serious effort to apprehend Veerappan although nearly Rs 25 crore was being spent annually for that purpose.
The judges further remarked that securing the release of Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar was not the lasting solution to the problem called Veerappan. “The forest brigand will kidnap someone else tomorrow if he releases Rajkumar today on the acceptance of his demands by the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments ”.
“He has been indulging in kidnapping in the past and will be continuing to do so unless he is apprehended and dealt with in accordance with law’, Justice Bharucha observed.
At one stage, Justice Sabharwal asked, “has anybody considered what will be the effect of the release of 51 TADA detenus on the witnesses already examined, the witnessess to be examined and society in general, and what will be the effect of their release on the morale of the police and the special task force in particular”.
Earlier, Dr Wadhera arguing his petition submitted an affidavit by a former Director-General of Police (Tamil Nadu), Mr Walter Devaram, who had headed the joint special task force set up by the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to apprehend the brigand alleging lack of political will on the part of both governments to tackle Veerappan.
Mr Devaram stated in his affidavit when he was about to apprehend Veerappan in 1995, he was suddenly transferred. The Veerappan gang had been reduced to only 5 from 150, huge quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered and mines laid by him were cleared by the special task force under his command.
He pointed out that succumbing to the demands of Veerappan would mean encouraging a lethal combination of crime and politics. Veerappan was being backed by Tamil Nadu militant groups, including the Tamil Liberation Force, and all demands, including the exchange of Rajkumar for the withdrawal of charges against the accused were theirs.
Mr Devaram alleged that there was no action on behalf of both governments to apprehend Veerappan during the past four years and the present kidnapping was stage-managed to earn political mileage.
The affidavit said the TADA charges against the five Veerappan men were withdrawn by the Tamil Nadu government by throwing to wind all legal formalities and no public interest was involved in it.
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