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September 1, 2000
SC indefinitely stays release of 51 TADA detainees
Fakir Chand in Bangalore/Mysore
In a major setback for the Karnataka government, the Supreme Court on Friday indefinitely stayed the release of 51 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act detainees, suspected associates of forest brigand Veerappan, who have been in the Mysore jail for seven years without trial.
A reconstituted three-judge bench of the apex court, comprising Justices S P Bharaucha, D P Mahapatra and Y K Sabarwal, ruled that its interim order of August 29 staying the release of the accused would continue till further orders. The bench also directed the Mysore sessions court not to release the detainees until it disposed of the case.
Taking a serious view of the state government's attempt to rake up the law and order issue in the event of the accused not being released, Bharucha said, "We make it amply clear that it is the Karnataka government's responsibility to maintain law and order and if you can't do it, then quit and make way for someone else who can do it."
The bench, however, observed that the state government was at liberty to mention the matter before Chief Justice A S Anand for seeking relief.
A stay was granted by a three-judge bench of the apex court on Tuesday, upholding a special leave petition of Abdul Kareem, former deputy superintendent police and father of sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmed, who was ambushed by the outlaw on August 14, 1992 along with other police officers.
The state government had filed its counter-affidavit and its advocate-general A N Jayaram, and state solicitor-general Harish Salve appeared before the bench for arguments when the petition was taken up for hearing around noon.
Supreme Court advocate Chava Badri Nath Babu, who represented Kareem, was assisted by his Mysore lawyers S Umesh and S K Manjunath. Kareem's eldest son Jameel Ahmed was present in the apex court during the hearing.
According to Babu, the bench heard both parties and adjourned the hearing after making observations and conveying that the stay it granted would continue even as it upheld Kareem's objections.
Coming on the 33rd day of the hostage crisis, involving the abduction of Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajakumar and three others by the bandit king, the much-awaited order has dealt a body blow to the state government's efforts in securing the early release of the superstar.
Giving into two main demands of Veerappan in exchange for Rajakumar's freedom, the state government had withdrawn charges against the detainees in the TADA designated court and dropped cases against 121 accused, by an executive order early this week after the sessions court granted them bail on Monday.
A jubilant 76-year-old Kareem in Mysore 'thanked Allah' for the relief he got from the apex court. When the news came from Delhi, Kareem was at a mosque offering Friday prayers along with relatives and hundreds others.
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