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September 5, 2000
TN govt preparing to tackle SC verdict
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
With the Supreme Court stalling the withdrawal of cases against 121 persons in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu courts, as demanded by brigand Veerappan, the return of the kidnapped Kannada matinee idol, Dr Rajakumar, may be delayed further, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government is said to be giving final touches to its argument before the Supreme Court in the above context. Official sources site provisions of Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which empowers a state government to withdraw pending criminal cases with prior sanction of the trial courts.
The example of George Fernandes in the Baroda dynamite case is being cited in support of its argument. The case against Fernandes was withdrawn at the end of the Emergency after he became a member of Morarji Desai's Council of Ministers at the Centre.
Another case pertains to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi himself. An erstwhile All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan government, under the late M G Ramachandran, had charged Karunanidhi and other Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan leaders of attempting to murder Indira Gandhi when she was touring Tamil Nadu in 1978. At that time, she was out of power.
The case, left pending for years, was withdrawn after the exit of the MGR government with the prior sanction of the trial court.
Indications are that Veerappan is firm on the withdrawal of cases before he could free Dr Rajakumar and three other hostages in his custody.
"Veerappan wants the 121 persons freed of all charges and set at liberty before he would free Dr Rajakumar and the others," according to an informed source. "He is unconcerned about the legal hassles into which the two state governments have landed," the source adds.
Apparently, Veerappan has brought the plight of his associates in Karnataka to the notice of the government emissary, R R Gopal. He cited the example an accused who is nearly eighty and has been charged with harbouring terrorist intentions, the source said.
In this context, the source, reportedly quoting Veerappan, refers to 'the plight of his associates in Karnataka prisons, against most of whom no charge-sheet has been filed. Many of them continue to be held as under-trials even after seven or eight years'.
Indications are that Gopal may have reached nowhere in his negotiations with Veerappan to secure the release of the hostages. He is pursuing the discussions only at the instance of the two state governments.
Gopal is said to have developed knee ailments owing to the constant exposure to the vagaries of the weather in Veerappan country and also the long and arduous treks that he has had to undertake to meet Veerappan. There is information that medicines have been despatched for him from Madras.
He is expected to return to Madras, after his third foray into the jungle, in the next two or three days.
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