Staff Reporter

Writ appeal filed by victim in Madurai Bench of High Court

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the Tiruchi Superintendent of Police to initiate stern action against those who conduct kangaroo courts (`katta panchayat') under his jurisdiction.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Dharma Rao Elipe and Justice P.P.S. Janarthana Raja passed the orders while disposing of a writ appeal moved by a victim from Vadukkupatti in Thuraiyur taluk.

The appellant, K. Thiagarajan, employed with All India Radio, said that there was a civil dispute between him and another person over an immovable property. A group of villagers organised a `katta panchayat' on August 9, 1998, and imposed a fine of Rs. 30,000 on him. Besides, the appellant and his wife were forced to kneel down for a day to reduce the fine amount to Rs. 3,100.

When he expressed his inability to pay even the reduced amount, the villagers snatched the jewels worn by her wife and asked to redeem them after depositing the money. His family was excommunicated from the village when he issued a legal notice to the `katta panchayatdars.'

Complaint ignored

He was also not allowed to attend his mother's funeral in 2004. The Uppiliyapuram police did not initiate any action against the guilty though a complaint was lodged. Representations to the National and State Human Rights Commission, the Chief Minister's cell and other higher police officials did not evoke a positive response.

Case registered

A writ petition filed by him before the Madurai Bench was dismissed on April 24 last, directing him to approach the district court and hence the writ appeal. The appellant's counsel, A. Rahul, urged the Division Bench to order an inquiry by the Superintendent of Police, who submitted a report and said that a case was registered against 24 villagers.

Satisfied with the report, the Bench directed the officer to crack down on such perpetrators and to recover the jewels belonging to the appellant's wife.