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August 16, 2000
TADA charges against extremist dropped
A designated court in Madras on Wednesday discharged Venkatesan, a member of a Tamil extremist outfit whose release has been demanded by forest brigand Veerappan, from charges under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
Judge M Chinnapandi allowed a petition from the public prosecutor, who cited a government order passed on August 14, to drop TADA charges against Venkatesan 'in the public interest'.
Clarifying the state's position following a query by the court, the prosecutor filed a memo saying the accused could be proceeded against under provisions of law other than TADA.
The government has already revoked detention orders under the National Security Act against four others whose release has been sought by Veerappan as a condition for the freedom of Kannada film star Dr Rajakumar and three others.
The government's action in dropping charges under TADA makes it easier for the accused to seek bail. But some criminal lawyers said a further complication could arise as the TADA cases will now have to be transferred to the jurisdiction of courts elsewhere in the state, and only they will have the power to release Venkatesan on bail.
The TADA cases pertain to offences that took place in 1993 in places like Kullanchavadi, Mannargudi and Kodavasal, and Venkatesan is said to be facing seven or eight cases. Different courts may have to be approached for bail, lawyers say.
Meanwhile, the Madras high court dismissed as infructuous three writ petitions challenging the detention of Sathyamurthy, Muthukumar and Manikandan under the NSA.
When the matter came up before a division bench comprising Justices S Jagadeesan and Prabha Sridevan, the court was informed that the detention orders had been revoked by the state government. Following this, the matter was dismissed as infructuous.
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