Mohamed Imranullah S.

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Monday ordered the transfer of a caste clash case, registered against 26 caste Hindus for murdering two Dalits at Melur near here in 1992, from a Sessions Court here to the Karur Principal District and Sessions Court.

Allowing a petition filed by one of the prosecution witnesses, Justice G. Rajasuria also directed the Karur court to deliver its verdict within three months as the case has been pending for more than 15 years. The Judge said that the transfer was necessary in view of the allegation raised by the petitioner that the accused were trying to win over the witnesses by hook or by crook. On the argument advanced by the counsel for the accused that the witnesses could not choose a trial court , the judge said: “Even though there is considerable force in the submissions… I am of the considered view that the case should be transferred in the interest of achieving objectivity.”

The Judge pointed out that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had special provisions which mandated that only a Deputy Superintendent of Police could be authorised to investigate the offences after ascertaining his/her suitability and mental make-up.

Similarly, Rule 4 (5) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules gave the victims the option of approaching the Collector for appointing an eminent advocate of their choice. Such special provisions emphasised that the legislators had thought it fit that certain extraordinary steps could be resorted to in SC/ST cases, even at the risk of deviating from regular criminal procedures.

The petitioner, A. Perumal of Melur, said that his father Ammasi and another villager Velu were killed by the accused on July 5, 1992 because the caste Hindus were irked over the participation of Dalits in an auction of temple property by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.

A case was registered against 27 persons of whom one died pending trial. Three others — M. Ramar, K. Manikandan and P. Sekar — were convicted in the 1998 Melavazhavu murder case in which six Dalits were hacked to death. In such circumstances, the Melur case witnesses were facing “tremendous pressure from the accused who insist on a compromise,” the petitioner alleged.