Costs imposed on 7 accused who filed revision petition

Directing the lower court to expedite trial in a case relating to an incident in Vachathi village in Dharmapuri district nearly two decades ago, the Madras High Court has imposed costs of Rs.10,000 on each of the seven accused who filed a revision petition against the trial court order.

They had moved the trial court seeking to implead three persons, including the then Collector and Superintendent of Police (SP), as accused in the case. Their plea was rejected.

A total of 269 persons, all forest, police and revenue officials, were cited as accused in the case, which was registered for offences including rape, rioting, and for voluntarily causing hurt and under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

On June 20, 1992, they allegedly entered Vachathi for conducting a search for smuggled sandalwood. During the operations, they were alleged to have ransacked property of the villagers, detained womenfolk and children and also committed rape.

Prosecution arguments in the case had been completed. At this stage, seven among the accused, M. Ramamoorthi and others, filed a petition before the Special Judge for SC and ST cases (Principal District Judge), Dharmapuri, the trial court, seeking to arraign as accused the then RDO, Deivasigamani, Dharmapuri Superintendent of Police, Ramanujam and Collector, Dhasarathan.

The trial court dismissed the petition. The accused filed a revision before the High Court.

Counsel contended that the examination of a prosecution witness, police Inspector, revealed that the three had visited the scene on the date of occurrence of the incident. As such, they should be impleaded as accused. N. Chandrasekharan, Special Public Prosecutor, CBI, which investigated the case, said absolutely no ground had been made out for impleading the three as accused.

Justice K.N. Basha described the case as a “very unfortunate” one wherein the petitioners were alleged to have committed heinous crimes. Trial was almost over by completion of prosecution arguments. Defence arguments had started. At this stage, the petitioners sought the addition of some more persons as accused.

He said the present revision petition was unwarranted.

It was nothing but a delaying tactic to protract the proceedings.

The trial judge had assigned valid reasons to reject their petition.

The total costs of Rs.70,000 should be paid to Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School For the Deaf, (near Gemini Flyover), within two weeks.

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