Bench asks petitioners to file additional documents

The Tamil Nadu government has justified in the Supreme Court orders of preventive detention under the Goondas Act against Ramakrishnan, Vijayakumar, Govindan, Kirubakaran and three others in the drug expiry case. A Bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, after hearing SLPs filed by Rekha, Malarvizhi, Jamunabai, G. Jayanthi and others against the Madras High court judgment dated December 23, 2010 upholding the detention orders, asked the petitioners to file additional documents to show that the detention orders were passed when the detenus were still in custody and no bail application filed by them was pending in court.

Even as counsel K.K. Mani and senior counsel K.V. Viswanathan argued that there was inordinate delay in considering the representation of the detenus, Justice Katju told counsel that public interest and safety of people were more important than personal liberty of individuals. Earlier, Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the State, justified the preventive detention in the interest of maintenance of public order. He explained how the detenus had manipulated expiry dates on labels and how the expired drugs were circulated in the market causing harm to the public health and safety.

The detenus and their associates, by tampering with the original labels, printed fresh labels to make it appear as though they weren't expired drugs, and redistributed them for sale.

Justice Katju made it clear that when there was danger to the lives of the people, no case was made out for release of the detenus. “We can't condone such acts and allow the public to die. We can't go on hyper-technicalities in such matters for the sake of few persons as public health and safety is of paramount consideration.”

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on March 15.