Stating that the trial court has not pronounced Sri Lankan Minister Anandan alias Douglas Devananda a proclaimed offender in a case of 1986 relating to murder, the Madras High Court on Wednesday said he was at liberty to approach it seeking anticipatory bail.
The High Court also directed him to approach the trial court to recall the non-bailable warrant pending against him by showing sufficient cause for his non-appearance. On filing the application, the trial court should consider it and pass suitable orders in the light of the observation made in the High Court order.
Justice G.M. Akbar Ali passed the order on a petition by Mr. Devananda seeking to call for the records on the file of IV Additional Sessions Court, Chennai, relating to a proclamation in 1994 and quash the same.
The petitioner and nine others were chargesheeted for offences under section 302 of the IPC and section 25 of the Arms Act in connection with the murder of Thirunavukkarasu at Choolaimedu here on November 1, 1986.
By the impugned order, the trial court had said that it had reasons to believe on the basis of the report of the Inspector of Police that the absconding accused, Selvanathan and nine others, were concealing themselves and could not be apprehended. In those circumstances, the proclamation was being ordered to be issued under section 82 Cr.P.C. (proclamation for person absconding) requiring the accused to appear before the court. The proclamation was effected and the accused did not appear before the trial court.
The petitioner moved the High Court seeking to quash the proclamation on various grounds, including that the newspaper publication was not in accordance with the trial court order.
In accordance with law
Mr. Justice Akbar Ali said the proclamation was effected in accordance with the law, except the paper publication, which was in the form of a news item. As per law, the paper publication was only an option. Under section 82 (3) of Cr.P.C., a statement in writing by the court should be conclusive evidence that the requirements of the provision had been complied with.
In the present case, the court had not pronounced the petitioner a ‘proclaimed offender.' After issue of proclamation, the petitioner failed to appear. The court had proceeded to transfer the case to the long-pending case register. If the accused was produced or appeared, the court could retrieve the case and proceed with the trial. Obviously, the petitioner was not in India when the proclamation was issued. He had sufficient cause for his non-appearance.
The Judge held that there was no illegality committed by the trial court in issuing the proclamation. The bail granted to the petitioner had been cancelled and he was not on bail.
Keywords: Douglas Devananda case