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September 19, 2000
SC decision puts spoke in Rajakumar's releaseOnkar Singh in New Delhi
The release of Kannada film icon Dr Rajakumar from the clutches of sandalwood brigand Veerppan received a further setback on Tuesday, when the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court postponed the hearing into the release of 131 TADA detenues to October 11.
The Chief Justice of India had marked the petition against their release, filed by Abdul Kareem, father of sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmed who was killed by Veerappan, to a three judge bench headed by Justice S P Bharucha. The other two judges on the bench were Justice S N Phukhan and Justice V R Patil.
When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, the judges asked Kareem's lawyer if his client had filed his replies to the statements filed by the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. "I told the court that I could not file the replies as the time given to me was not sufficient. The honourable judges accepted my plea and granted me time till October 9 to file my replies. The matter will now come up on October 11, and till then the stay on releasing the prisoners continues," Chava Badri Nath Babu told rediff.com after Tuesday's hearing.
While accepting his plea for granting more time, the judges however rejected his request that the voluminous documents filed by the state governments should be translated and given to the petitioner. "You have got to do this at your own expense," the court said in its order.
The Union government is expected to file its replies before the court tomorrow.
While Babu was pleased that the court had put off the matter, advocates for the Karnataka government were visibly upset at having to wait for three more weeks before the matter is heard by the apex court.
The state of Karnataka was represented by additional solicitor general Harish Salve and the advocate general A N Jayaram. "We are disappointed by the delay but we have to abide by the decision of the apex court. We will put forward our arguments on October 11 and hope for an early hearing," Jayaram told newsmen outside the court premises.
Karnataka had sent several ministers and a battery of advocates to New Delhi for this particular hearing. "We are a bit upset about today's outcome. But this order will in no way hamper the release of Dr Rajakumar. We have asked Nakkeeran Editor R R Gopal to go to the jungles again and talk to Veerappan. We want the negotiations to continue. We are not thinking of other alternatives because they could endanger his life," D B Chandera Gaura, Karnataka's minister for parliamentary affairs and law and justice told rediff.com.
His colleague and minister for cooperation, D K Shiva Kumar, denied that there would be any law and order arising in any part of the state following the court's directive. "We will take care of any problem," he assured newsmen.
Sri Venugopal, advocate for Simon and 50 other TADA detenues, said most of his clients had been in jail for over 7-8 years now. "Some of them are women and some are over the age of 70. Some have been ailing for some time, while others have even been operated upon while in jail." According to him, theirs was a fit case for release on bail.
EARLIER REPORT: SC adjourns TADA detenues' case to Oct 11
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