Wants Chief Minister to order the arrest, charge-sheeting and suspension of 30 policemen

Press Council of India (PCI) Chairman Markendey Katju on Friday asked the Tamil Nadu government to quit or run the administration in accordance with the Constitution by immediately ordering the arrest, charge-sheeting and suspension of 30 policemen who had acted in a high-handed manner against the Editor of a Tamil daily and his son for writing against illegal granite mining.

The complaint of S. Manimaran, Editor of Tamil daily Dhinaboomi, Madurai, was among the 19 matters taken up by the the PCI’s Inquiry Committee which met here on Friday.

While counsel for the Tamil Nadu government was making his submissions, Mr. Katju expressed his ire at the inaction of the State government over the incident, which occurred on the night of July 21, 2010.

Thirty policemen had jumped the compound wall, entered his house, dragged him and his son. “I want them to be arrested,” Mr. Katju said. “Either you do it or resign,” he added.

When the counsel said he felt sorry, the PCI Chairman said, “Your sorry will not do. Let the Chief Minister say she is unable to run the government in accordance to the Constitution and submit resignation to the Governor.”

He also pulled up the counsel for not having made his client comply with the orders issued by the PCI in the past with regard to the case.

Later in his order, Mr. Katju said that very serious allegations have been made against the Tamil Nadu government with regard to illegal arrest, torture and harassment of the complainant due to his critical writings.

He said the complainant alleged that a lot of complaints were received from the local public regarding huge misappropriation in granite mining industry in Tamil Nadu.

The complainant’s son made an investigation and it was alleged that stones valued at Rs. 1,500 crore were illegally mined. Annoyed by the newspaper’s report, the president of the Granite Quarry Owners Association filed a false criminal case.

The police entered his house and took him and his son away without showing any arrest warrant. Police did not give any explanation nor did it furnish any copy of the complaint. They took them to the magistrate and got them remanded.

The PCI inquiry committee had passed two orders on April 27 and August 27 in 2012, Mr. Katju said deeply regretting that neither of the orders was complied with and total disrespect was shown to this committee by Tamil Nadu authorities.

“In our opinion, filing a criminal case could not be made an excuse to escape action by the Press Council in connection with the freedom of the press. We had expected that by now the 30 policemen who had committed high-handed and illegal act of barging into the complainant’s house in the night would have been suspended, arrested and charge-sheeted, but that was not done. Even today, neither the District Collector nor Home Secretary appeared before us in sheer defiance of our orders”.

“In our opinion, if the Tamil Nadu government finds itself unable to run the administration in accordance with the Constitution, it has no right to continue in office.”

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