The editor of Tamil daily ‘Dina Bhoomi' S. Manimaran, his son M. Rameshkumar and M. Muthiah of Keelayur, who were arrested on Wednesday for publishing news on granite quarries in the Madurai region, were released on Thursday.
The prosecution did not oppose the bail application when it came up before the Judicial Magistrate, Madurai. A senior government official said that on the basis of Chief Minister’s advice, the bail application was not opposed. He had also told the authorities if a case was made out against them, action could be taken as per the law.
A police officer said the department had dropped several of the sections registered under the IPC against the three persons. The sections dropped were 384 (extortion), 387 (causing fear of death), 506 (1) criminal intimidation and 392 read with 511 (robbery and attempt to commit criminal offence).
Our Madurai Staff Reporter adds:
Advocate P. Rajendran, appearing for Mr. Manimaran and two others told The Hindu at the Madurai Central Prisons that as the police had dropped many of the (non-bailable) Sections charged under
the IPC, he filed an application before the Judicial Magistrate, Uma Maheswari, following which bail was granted.
On Wednesday, the Tallakulam police had registered case under IPC Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful constraint), 384 (extortion), 387 (causing fear of death), 294 b (obscene acts in public), 506 (1)criminal intimidation and 392 read with 511 (robbery and attempt to commit criminal offence) against Mr. Manimaran and two others.
However, on Thursday, the police had retained 294 b, 341 and 385 Sections under the IPC only.
Speaking to reporters on release from the Prisons, Mr. Manimaran said that the newspaper (Dina Bhoomi) had only exposed the huge loss of revenue to the exchequer by many of the quarry operators in the suburban pockets like Melur near Madurai. "There was no truth in the complainant's charge that I threatened them or demanded money for not publishing the news items. I will face them in the court of law," he maintained.
To another query on the Chief Minister's intervention in the issue, Ramesh Kumar thanked the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, but said that they would face the charges as per the law against the quarry operators and sought action against erring officials behind them. Filing robbery and extortion cases against an editor of a daily had come as a rude shock.
Instead of filing defamation case, the police were indirectly "used" to register criminal Sections against the editor of a newspaper. In a democracy, is it wrong to expose the acts of tax evasion by some quarry owners, who are close to a few people in the ruling party, Mr. Manimaran asked. "The newspaper has all evidence about the alleged evasion running to several crores by the quarry operators," he claimed.
The TN government should take stern action against the Madurai District Collector and the police officers behind the act, he appealed.
The complainant had alleged that the newspaper indulged in publishing a series of news items, which were "false and misleading," about the granite quarry business in the region. The owners of the newspaper "demanded huge sums" for not publishing the news items, following which Rs 5 lakh was given. However, the newspaper threatened to tarnish the image of granite quarry owners and pasted posters every day causing "irreparable damage."