Granting of anticipatory bail to Alagiri’s son

The Jayalalithaa Government suffered a setback on Tuesday with the Supreme Court refusing to interfere with an order of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court granting anticipatory bail to Durai alias Dayanidhi, son of Union Minister M.K. Alagiri, and S. Nagarajan, director of Olympus granite Private Ltd, in the granite quarrying scam.

A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi dismissed at the admission stage an appeal filed by the government against the order passed by the High Court on December 10, 2012.

The Madurai Bench had quashed the non-bailable warrant issued against Mr. Durai and granted him anticipatory bail in cases registered against him. He was asked to surrender his passport to the Judicial Magistrate and directed to appear at the Keelavalavu police station every day until further orders.

Even as senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the State, submitted that huge illegal mining was going on in Madurai district and the Supreme Court, like what it did in Karnataka and Goa, should ban it and cancel the anticipatory bail granted to the respondents, the Bench asked, “By putting him behind bars will you stop illegal mining? The High Court had passed an order after taking into account whether he will flee the country and whether he would tamper with the evidence.” When the Bench asked counsel, “What is the maximum punishment,” counsel replied, “Two years.”

The Bench observed, “We have some iota of doubt (in an obvious reference that the appeal was filed for political reasons) but can’t say it in the open court.” The Bench then dismissed the appeal.

In its appeal, the State said Olympus granite Private Ltd was incorporated with Mr. S. Nagarajan and Mr. Dayanithi as Directors. The Madurai Collector had constituted 18 teams to inspect the quarries situated in and around the district and the teams found that there were illegal, unlawful mining activities in the areas allotted for quarrying to the company. The police arrested many quarry owners who were involved in illegal mining of granites and investigated the volume of wrongful loss sustained to the State exchequer.

While so, the respondents who were influential persons, evaded arrest and moved court for anticipatory bail. Though it was rejected at the first instance, they got it the second time. Contending that grant of anticipatory bail to the respondents violated judicial discipline, the State sought quashing of the impugned order.