Tamil Nadu

Madras high court directs Melavalavu case convicts to stay in Vellore

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. File

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

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The Madurai Bench of the court bars them from entering Melavalavu till disposal of case.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the recently released 13 life convicts in the Melavalavu massacre case to stay in Vellore district and not enter the region in Madurai district, till the disposal of the writ petition.

The life convicts were recently released by the government on account of good conduct. They were convicted of hacking to death six members of the Scheduled Caste community in 1997.

Interim directions

Issuing a series of interim directions in the case, a Division Bench of Justices S. Vaidyanathan and N. Anand Venkatesh also directed the petitioner advocate P. Rathinam or any other organisation not to rake up the issue of the release of the 13 convicts in print or on social media.

All the parties shall await the final decision in the writ petition, it said.

The court ordered that the 13 convicts must stay in Vellore and report to the District Probation Officer twice a month, on every second and fourth Sunday. They shall also report to the Superintendent of Police, Vellore, twice a month, on every first and third Sunday. They shall not move out of the district without getting the leave of the court, the judges said.

The 13 convicts should give their residential address in Vellore along with their mobile numbers to the Superintendent of Police, Vellore, and the Superintendent of Police, Madurai. They shall not change their mobile numbers without the permission of the court. Any change in the residential addresses should be intimated to the Superintendents of Police, the court said.

If any of the 13 convicts had passports, they should surrender them to the SP, Madurai, immediately. The other conditions imposed in the bond, executed by the 13 convicts, shall be strictly followed, it said.

The court also directed the Superintendent of Police, Madurai, to ensure that no meetings are organised or gatherings allowed regarding the issue, pending disposal of the writ petition. Law and order should be maintained at Melavalavu, ruled the court.

Status report

During the course of the hearing, Advocate General Vijay Narayan submitted the status report before the court. He said before considering the representations of the 13 convicts for premature release, the recommendations of the Inspector General of Prisons and a State-level committee were taken into consideration. A detailed scrutiny was carried out.

He submitted that in 2008, three convicts involved in the case were released. They were outside for the last 10 years and there was no law and order problem because of them till date, he added.

Taking cognisance of the report, the court said the High Court while hearing the criminal appeals in connection with the case observed that the case could not be looked from the angle of a regular murder case. This case had an impact on persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste community and the society at large. A reading of the status report prima facie showed that this case has not been scrutinised from this angle, the judges said.

The Supreme Court has placed the power of remission and pardon at a higher pedestal. However, the exercise of such power can always become a subject matter of judicial scrutiny, if relevant factors were not taken into consideration before the government order was passed for premature release.

‘Want to see files’

This court wants to scrutinise the entire files and the recommendations made by the Committee and satisfy itself whether the State had considered the effect of the decision to release the convicts on the family members of the victims and society as a whole.

In a case of this nature, these factors play an important role. Unfortunately, the three convicts were released in 2008, which is now being shown as a precedent for releasing the remaining 13 convicts. A previous wrong could not justify perpetuating the same wrong in future, that is to say, two wrongs will not make things right, the court said.

The release of the three convicts did not become the subject matter of challenge earlier. Therefore, it could not become a binding precedent to justify the release of the 13 convicts, the judges said. The court said that it wanted to test the government orders.

The court then adjourned the hearing in the case to January 6, 2020, granting time to all the parties concerned in the case to file their counter affidavits.

 

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 8:58:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-directs-melavalavu-case-convicts-to-stay-in-vellore/article30100769.ece

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