Supreme Court had asked authorities to withdraw cases to restore peace in the area

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the State government to act in accordance with a Supreme Court direction regarding the withdrawal of cases against protesters opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

The Supreme Court had on May 6 issued a direction that “endeavour should be made to withdraw all the criminal cases filed against the agitators so that peace and normalcy be restored in Kudankulam and nearby places and steps should be taken to educate the people of the necessity of the plant which is in the largest interest of the nation, particularly the State of Tamil Nadu.”

Disposing of a writ petition seeking a direction to the authorities to withdraw all criminal cases filed against those protesting against the nuclear power project in compliance with the Supreme Court order of May 6, the First Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice R.K.Agrawal and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan said 216 cases had been registered under various sections of the IPC and the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Damage and Loss) Act.

The State government was under obligation to maintain law and order and considering the situation in and around Kudankulam. In view of the ongoing agitation by the local residents, the government had taken a decision to postpone/defer the withdrawal of cases registered against the agitators. “Given the facts and circumstances of the case, it could not be stated that the apprehension expressed by the State government was not genuine or actuated by mala fide motives or extraneous reasons,” the Bench said.

It directed the State Principal Secretary, Home, to act in accordance with the Supreme Court direction as expeditiously as possible.

The grievance of the petitioner, P.Pugalenthi, an advocate, was that though as per the Supreme Court direction, endeavour should be made to withdraw all the criminal cases, the State government had not taken immediate steps to withdraw cases.

Petitions dismissed

The Bench dismissed two petitions filed by G.Sundarrajan, an engineering graduate, challenging the clearance granted by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board on July 11 for ‘First Approach to Criticality” of Unit 1 of the power plant and a direction to the authorities to comply with all the 15 directions of the Supreme Court.

The Bench said a perusal of the documents filed by the authorities disclosed that pre-operational directions issued by the Supreme Court had been complied with and reports to that effect had also been filed. The petitioner counsel’s submission that copies of the reports had not been furnished to the petitioner lacked merit, as there was no direction by the Supreme Court to this effect.

As regards the contention that the Supreme Court directions had not been complied with, Mr.Justices Agrawal and Sathyanarayanan said a perusal of the grounds raised by the petitioner would disclose that the petitioner wanted to re-agitate the issue once again, which had attained finality before the Supreme Court.

The High Court could not interpret Supreme Court orders and the options available to the petitioner for redress of his grievance were not foreclosed. If the petitioner was of the opinion that the Supreme Court directions had not been complied with by the authorities in letter and spirit, it was open to him to move the Supreme Court bringing to its knowledge about the non-compliance of the directions and also for getting copies of the reports for compliance filed by the authorities.

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