The Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday granted leave to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file an appeal against the acquittal of 17 accused, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police, from the ‘Dinakaran' newspaper office attack case.

A Division Bench of Justices S. Rajeswaran and G.M. Akbar Ali granted the leave, required to be given under Section 378 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure before hearing appeals filed by the State against a judgment of acquittal passed by a trial court, after rejecting all objections raised by the accused.

Further, stating that the CBI has raised “arguable grounds” in the Memorandum of Grounds filed along with the criminal appeal against the trial court judgement, the judges directed the High Court Registry to number the appeal and post it for hearing during the regular course.

On March 13, the same set of judges had condoned a delay of 118 days on the part of the CBI in filing the appeal. Thereafter, they took up the petition seeking leave for hearing and reserved their orders in the leave petition on April 18.

The accused had opposed the leave petition on the main ground that the Inspector, Special Crime Branch, CBI, Chennai, was not a competent person to file the appeal which ought to have been filed only by the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for the CBI with the consent of the Central Government.

They pointed out that the Inspector had filed the appeal along with petitions for condoning the delay and granting leave on July 7, 2010 itself whereas the Central Government had issued a letter only on February 11 this year authorising the SPP Rozario Sundarraj to present the appeal.

Writing the judgement, Mr. Justice Akbar Ali said that a written order need not be passed authorising the SPP to file the appeal. It could also be an oral direction especially when the Centre had intimated the CBI Director, Chennai zone, as early as June 2, 2010 about its decision to file the appeal. “Even assuming that there was no authorisation to the SPP on the date of presentation of the appeal, the defect is only curable and the same was cured by the subsequent letter dated February 11, 2011,” the judge said. The attack on the newspaper office here took place on May 9, 2007 pursuant to the publication of the results of a survey on who would be the political heir of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.