The organisation began with a laudable object, but with the passage of time, it took an “ugly path”: HC

Upholding a tribunal’s order of May 2010 confirming the Centre’s decision to ban the LTTE, the Madras High Court on Monday said the organisation began with a laudable object, but with the passage of time, it took an “ugly path” and indulged in “heinous crimes.”

Voluminous material containing highly sensitive information had been produced before the court by the authorities to show the involvement of the organisation in various crimes in India, including the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in which case top leaders of LTTE were the accused, a Division Bench, comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M.Venugopal, said.

On May 14, 2010, the Centre notified the LTTE as an “unlawful association” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The tribunal set up under the Act confirmed the declaration on November 12, 2010.

The Prisoners Rights Forum, represented by its trustee and director, P. Pugalenthi, and the general secretary, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Vaiko, challenged the tribunal’s order.

The petitioners’ main argument was that the LTTE’s object for Tamil Eelam was restricted to Tamils living in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. Since the island nation was not part of the Indian territory, the object of establishment of ‘Tamil Eelam’ was not intended to take any land in India. Therefore, declaring the Tigers as an unlawful association was illegal.

Messrs. Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and Venugopal said admittedly it was the petitioners’ case that they were neither any office-bearer nor members of the banned organisation. Hence, it could not be said that they were ‘aggrieved persons’ to challenge the notification, particularly when the LTTE itself remained silent. The tribunal’s order was on November 12, 2010. The prescribed two years period had already lapsed. Nothing survived in these matters to be contested now. The tribunal had been constituted at Delhi and it being the Bench of the Delhi High Court, the writ petitions were liable to be dismissed.

The Bench said that not only the object of any association for which it was established and continuing, but the way in which it sought to achieve its object has to be pure. This should be considered while branding any association or organisation illegal.

“A gruesome act of robbery and murder cannot get nullified or diluted for the simple reason that a part of the booty was given for charity by the accused. In the same manner though the object for which the LTTE has been floated is highly laudable, with the passage of time, it has taken ugly path, leading to indulging in many heinous crimes in our land also.”

The material containing highly sensitive information submitted before the tribunal, were available with the government while issuing the notification. Thus, even on merits, there was every justification in the government’s notification, the court said.

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