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September 2, 2000
Karnataka in a fix on its next legal move
Fakir Chand in Bangalore:
It is darkness at noon in Karnataka on the 34th day of the Rajakumar hostage crisis even as the ruling Congress gropes for a way out of the legal vortex it is caught in.
A day after a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court admonished it for citing law-and-order in a bid to get its interim stay on the release of TADA [Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act] detainees vacated, the state government is in a fix over its next legal move.
In a clear departure from its earlier plan to move the Chief Justice of India to secure relief, the government has now decided to wait for the return of its emissary, R Raja Gopal, from his third mission into the jungle.
A weary Chief Minister S M Krishna, who has lost much of his sheen grappling with the bandit's dare-devilry, said the government had left the decision of whether to approach the CJI to state Advocate General A N Jayaram, Union Solicitor General Harish Salve, and a battery of their aides.
In accordance with the operative part of the apex court's order, the state's advocates are weighing the pros and cons of appealing to the CJI not only to get the indefinite stay vacated, but also to dispose of the special leave petition filed by former deputy superintendent of police Abdul Kareem, father of slain sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmed.
Asked how soon the state would approach the CJI as suggested by the bench for the speedy disposal of the SLP, Krishna said the government had authorised its lawyers to take appropriate action.
The chief minister was not forthcoming on the day or date, much less on the legal recourse the state would be taking.
Officials working behind the scenes in the state home and law ministries hinted, on condition of anonymity, that the government is virtually at a dead-end now.
"It will be a cul-de-sac if the order of the apex court bench is upheld by the CJI. The government will then have nowhere to go. In view of the strictures passed by the bench, it will be risky even to guess whether the government will get any relief in the CJI's court," they said.
Asked whether his government was now in conformity with the observations made by the apex court, Krishna said: "Yes, of course, we cannot remain insensitive to the views of the learned judges, and we abide by its directions to maintain law and order."
In defence of the counter affidavit filed by the state government before the apex court, Krishna referred to the deposition of Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee, who pleaded that "the situation has arisen where a fine act of balancing has to be performed. Previous lapses cannot be held against a state, and it should be permitted to do something which a democratic government is permitted to do under the Constitution of India."
"I think Soli Sorabjee has succinctly placed the Karnataka government's point of view before the apex bench," Krishna added.
Defending his government's contention on law-and-order, Krishna said no government was complete without anticipating such things. "Here is a situation where there is a possibility of such a problem repeating because it has happened earlier. If the government becomes wiser and starts thinking ahead of times, it cannot be faulted."
The chief minister maintained that the indefinite stay on the release of Veerappan's associates would not come in the way of securing Rajakumar's release from the outlaw's clutches.
In a related development, yet another videocassette from Raja Gopal has arrived in Bangalore, containing this time Veerappan's demand for concrete action on the payment of compensation to the victims of the 1991 Cauvery riots and early installation of Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar's statue in Bangalore.
The state government has chose not to respond to it as it has already conveyed its stand to the outlaw through Gopal.
Karnataka in a fix on next legal move
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