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September 5, 2000
Veerappan case: SC order may expedite hearing
N Sathiya Moorthy in Chennai
The Supreme Court order of Monday, refusing an early hearing in the Veerappan associates case, may have disappointed many, but it's the best the judiciary could have done to take the case forward.
By asking the parties concerned to "file their pleadings in the next 10 days" before seeking an early hearing, the court may have forced the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and also the Centre, to act rapidly.
By pleadings, the first bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice A S Anand, had meant all arguments that would have been presented by the counsels before an open court. This would have been time-consuming, for which the court would have to earmark days together.
Instead, the court has facilitated the parties, including three petitioners, to present their arguments, more cogently, in writing, and swap them among themselves. Both counsel and judges would now come to the court after reading the written arguments, with questions and answers ready.
The public hearing would then involve only clarifications on arguments presented, which will be shorter, if not sweeter.
In this case, the pleadings route will also help avoid the build-up of tension, caused by a continuous hearings by the Supreme Court.
Overnight arguments left hanging and reported in the media could create a wrong impression in the common man's mind.
Indications are that the Centre may not be taking any position of its own on this particular case, more than what is absolutely necessary legally.
The Centre is likely to tell the court that law and order was a state subject under the Constitution, and the Union of India had nothing to say in the case. It may submit that the Centre was ready to extend whatever help and assistance sought by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. That could also be politically correct for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led ruling coalition in Delhi under the circumstances.
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