Tamil Nadu

HC decides to wait for SC orders on extending Ponn Manickavel’s tenure

CHENNAI, 11/04/2008: Madras High Court buildings in Chennai on April 11, 2008. Photo: V. Ganesan

CHENNAI, 11/04/2008: Madras High Court buildings in Chennai on April 11, 2008. Photo: V. Ganesan   | Photo Credit: V_Ganesan

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‘Special officer, govt. should await apex court’s orders regarding handover of records’

The Madras High Court on Monday took its hands off the issue of extending the tenure of Idol Wing CID special officer A.G. Ponn Manickavel beyond November 30 — when his one-year tenure comes to an end — and decided to await the Supreme Court’s orders on the matter.

Justices R. Mahadevan and P.D. Audikesavalu said the State government and the special officer should also await the apex court’s orders in so far as the handing over of all idol theft-related case records to Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Abhay Kumar Singh was concerned.

The decision was taken after the ADGP filed a memo in the High Court on Monday, stating that the Supreme Court had asked Additional Advocate General (AAG) Balaji Srinivasan to make a request to the HC to adjourn its proceedings until the apex court hears the case on December 2.

While Mr. Manickavel had approached the High Court, seeking an extension of his tenure on the ground that he was not allowed to work peacefully in the last one year, the State government had moved the Supreme Court directly to get him out of the Idol Wing CID on completion of his tenure.

The HC Bench, led by Justice Mahadevan, said it was up to advocate V. Selvaraj, representing the special officer; lawyer ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendran; and advocate G.S. Mani, representing activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy, to make a mention before the Supreme Court if they wanted the issue to be heard before December 2.

In so far as the proceedings before the High Court were concerned, the judges adjourned them to December 6, with liberty to all parties to approach the court for an early hearing, if necessary. In the meantime, Mr. Manickavel filed a report in the court, stating that he had completed investigations into three cases in the last one year.

Accusing the government of having created several impediments for him, the special officer said his team had still been able to register three new cases, remand 17 accused, recover 12 stolen idols, obtain convictions in four cases, repatriate an idol from Australia and determine the antiquity of 5,198 idols, since November 30, 2018.

Srirangam case

On Monday, the judges also took up for hearing a contempt of court petition filed by Vaishnavite Rangarajan Narasimhan of Srirangam, accusing the ADGP of having disobeyed orders passed by the court on February 22 to register a case in connection with the alleged theft of ancient idols and other antiquities from Sri Ranganathaswamy temple.

Contesting the plea, the AAG said the ADGP was unable to take a decision on the issue since a special investigation team, led by the special officer, had only submitted to him a preliminary inquiry report on the issue, recommending registration of an FIR, without enclosing the statements of witnesses recorded by the investigating officer in the case.

The ADGP would take a decision on the issue within 48 hours of submission of the statements of witnesses, he said. Wondering why a high-ranking official required such documents and whether such practice was followed in each and every case in the State, the judges directed the ADGP to file an affidavit by December 6, listing his requirements.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:46:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-decides-to-wait-for-sc-orders-on-extending-ponn-manickavels-tenure/article30080315.ece

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