Tamil Nadu

Govt. decides to transfer all idol theft cases to CBI

The State government on Wednesday sprang a surprise by informing the Madras High Court that it had taken a policy decision to transfer to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) all idol theft cases that were now being probed by the Idol Wing CID led by the court-appointed investigator Inspector General of Police A.G. Ponn Manickavel.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) P.H. Arvindh Pandian told a Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and P.D. Audikesavalu, specially constituted by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee for hearing idol theft related cases, that the decision to transfer the probe to the central agency had been taken to inspire public confidence.

He also produced a communication received by him from Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi with respect to the government’s decision to forthwith transfer all idol theft related cases to the CBI. After perusing the communication, the judges asked the AAG to file the communication in the form of a typed set of papers by August 8.

During the course of arguments, the court was told that the government’s decision to seek a suo motu CBI probe was taken considering the overall circumstances in which “one arm of the government (the Idol Wing CID) was found to be trying to hurt another arm (the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department).”

A long-standing confrontation between Mr. Ponn Manickavel and the HR&CE Commissioner R. Jaya became public on June 27 when both of them traded charges against each other during the hearing before Mr. Justice Mahadevan. Then, the IGP was also accused of not attending review meetings called by his superiors.

On his part, Mr. Manickavel made a startling allegation that his superior officials in the rank of Additional Director General of Police and Director General of Police were attempting to obtain sensitive information with respect to investigations being conducted by him and pass it on to the accused involved in those cases.

Issue rocked Assembly

After The Hindu reported the ugly spat on June 28, the issue resonated in the Legislative Assembly too with the Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin wanting to know whether the government was attempting to scuttle the probe by the IGP. However, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami stoutly denied the charge.

Against this backdrop, the Idol wing officials on Tuesday arrested HR&CE Additional Commissioner M. Kavitha, 52, from her residence in Mylapore here. The arrest was made in connection with a case booked by the Sivakanchi police in Kancheepuram district last year for alleged swindling of gold while making two idols for the Ekambareswarar Temple.

The arrest created a furore with the HR&CE officials threatening to go on leave en masse. An urgent bail application was also moved by Ms. Kavitha before the Division Bench led by Mr. Justice Mahadevan on Wednesday. However, the judges adjourned the hearing to Friday to enable a Government Advocate to obtain instructions.

Though a senior counsel representing her made a plea for interim bail, citing poor health, the judges stopped short with an oral instruction to the government advocate to make sure that necessary medical care was provided to her in the prison.

PMK questions move

PMK youth wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss on Wednesday questioned whether the transfer of the idol theft cases investigated by police officer Ponn Manickavel to the CBI was being done to save certain Ministers allegedly involved in the case.

In a statement, Mr. Anbumani said that the State government’s submission in the Madras High Court that Mr. Ponn Manickavel’s actions were not adequate in the case was surprising. “Mr. Ponn Manickavel is an honest officer. It [the government expressing no confidence in Mr. Ponn Manickavel] only shows the attitude of the government which reminds one of the proverb that ‘everyone is wrong because I am a thief’,” he said.


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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 5:52:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-decides-to-transfer-all-idol-theft-cases-to-cbi/article24576640.ece

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