Expressing dissatisfaction over ‘insufficient details,' Salem Judicial Magistrate V. Sri Vidya on Monday returned the petition and other related documents filed by the Salem City Central Crime Branch (CCB), which sought the custody extension of DMK strongman and former minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam, lodged in Coimbatore Central Prison, in connection with a fresh land grab case.
The Salem CCB sleuths who were present at the court hall for obtaining a warrant for the formal arrest of Mr. Arumugam found themselves in a tight spot when the Magistrate asked them for more details in connection with the case.
“I cannot be biased. Why should you come for a warrant at the last minute when the bail bond for Mr. Arumugam (as per Madras High Court instructions) had been signed and issued in connection with an earlier case? Why have you not enclosed any confession statement along with the complaint and other documents to support your claims?” she asked.
After a day-long deliberation, which took place in phases, she finally announced that she had to return the petition seeking the warrant.
Earlier, DMK lawyers strongly opposed the CCB's plea for seeking ‘custody' of Mr. Arumugam saying that they could not retain a remand prisoner who was enlarged on bail in prison by slapping yet another case. They claimed that the plea for a warrant for the ‘formal arrest' of a remand prisoner was also legally not tenable.
The Madras High Court had enlarged Mr. Arumugam on bail in connection with the third land grab case (he got bails in two other earlier cases) last Tuesday.
But a string of government holidays including Ramzan and Vinayaka Chathurti prevented him from getting released from the prison after being lodged on July 30.
The delay had provided an opportunity for the CCB to register a fourth land-related case against him in which he had been named Accused No.1.
Along with Mr. Arumugam, 15 others were named as accused in the fresh case, including his son and former MLA A. Rajendiran, personal secretary Kousika Boopathi, nephew K. Sureshkumar, personal assistant Sekar, advocate Deivalingam, Corporation councilor ‘Gym' Ram, Saravanan, John Aloysius, DMK Urban Deputy Secretary ‘Alagapuram' Murali, Thathai Karthi, Narayanan, former Inspector of Police K. Lakshmanan, retired tahsildhar Srirenganathan, retired Revenue Divisional Officer V Balagurumoorthy and Prakash.
According to complainant R. Premnath of the Salem-based Coimbatore Jewellers Shop, Mr. Arumugham and his men in 2007 took him to DMK party office and threatened him to sell a family property of 12,676 square feet of land located at Alagapuram in city to the DMK leader.
When he refused they threatened to murder him. Police refused to accept complaints then.
Hence, he and his family members approached the Madras High Court, which directed the City Police to inquire into the allegations. But nothing had happened, he alleged.
After the change of government, Mr. Premnath approached City Police Commissioner K. Sokkalingam on September 3 and appealed for action. Based on his complaint, police filed a First Information Report and initiated the legal procedures against the accused.
The Salem Bar Association has announced a court boycott on Tuesday in protest against what it called an ‘inappropriate method' adopted by the police while arresting lawyer Deivalingam in connection with the case.
Special Correspondent writes from Coimbatore:
Party cadre and family members of Mr. Arumugam waited at the prison entrance since afternoon anticipating his release on bail. However, the prison sources said that the bail order was yet to reach them.
A group of lawyers sought permission to meet Mr. Arumugam, but could not get it till 6 p.m.
They wanted the prison authorities to explain the reasons for the denial of permission.