Attack on Income Tax officials: HC sets aside bail granted to accused, remits all matters

Updated - July 28, 2023 09:49 pm IST

Published - July 28, 2023 09:38 pm IST - MADURAI

A view of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.

A view of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday set aside the bail granted by the Judicial Magistrate-I, Karur, to those who had attacked Income Tax officials when they were searching the premises of persons linked to Minister V. Senthilbalaji in Karur in May. The bail applications were restored and remitted to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Karur, to decide the matter.

The court passed the order on a batch of petitions filed by the Income Tax officials, who had faced a hostile reaction from alleged supporters of the Minister when they searched the premises of his acquaintances. The officials sought the cancellation of the bail granted to their attackers.

Justice G. Ilangovan, referring to a Supreme Court judgment, observed that the bail order should indicate why the bail is being granted. However, the trial court had not indicated any parameter. The trial court took into account the duration of custody of three days or more. But the serious allegations of the offence, and the recovery of articles or documents had not been discussed. The court observed that cryptic orders had been passed.

Taking into account the fact that the documents and office seals were snatched from the officials, the court remitted all the issues. The bail applications must be decided by a senior judge, the court observed, and remitted them to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Karur. The court directed the accused to surrender before the trial court. The bail applications should be decided by the Chief Judicial Magistrate on Monday, or in three days, after giving an opportunity to all the parties concerned.

In their petitions, the Income Tax officials had said that in view of the prima facie materials available with the department, a search was authorised by the Principal Director of Income Tax (Investigation). Warrant was issued on May 25 to conduct the searches at various premises.

The petitioners said on May 26, a large group of people had gathered on the premises where the searches were being conducted and began to verbally abuse them. They alleged certain documents and department seals were snatched from them. Though the local police had been informed about the search, no police personnel were deployed to assist the officials during the searches.

They said the team resumed the searches on May 27 after they were provided security by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Complaints were lodged with the police and cases were registered against those who were involved in the incidents. Though the accused had been arrested and remanded in judicial custody, they were granted bail by the Judicial Magistrate-I, Karur, the Income Tax officials said.

The officials said through their counsel, they had sought permission before the Judicial Magistrate to file an intervention application. However, the request was denied and bail was granted in a mechanical manner to the accused. The fact that the officials were manhandled and roughed up was not considered at all. Four officials were admitted to hospital for treatment, the petitioners said and sought cancellation of the bail.

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