Tamil Nadu

Murasoli Trust accuses NCSC vice-chairman of bias

Judge seeks Murugan’s response to writ petition alleging ties with BJP

The Madras High Court on Thursday sought the response of L. Murugan, vice-chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), to a writ petition filed by Murasoli Trust accusing him of having “failed to shed his ties” with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allowing the constitutional body to be misused for settling political scores.

Justice C.V. Karthikeyan ordered notice to him after being prima facie satisfied with the claim of the Trust, represented by its trustee R.S. Bharathi, that “all was not well” with regard to Mr. Murugan having taken cognisance of a complaint lodged by a BJP office-bearer alleging that the Trust had encroached upon panchami land in Chennai.

The judge also directed a Central government standing counsel to take notice on behalf of the NCSC and submit its reply by January 21 to the contention of the Trust that the commission does not have jurisdiction to decide upon the title of a property. Notice was also ordered to the complainant R. Srinivasan, secretary of the State unit of BJP, based in Madurai.

In the meantime, when Senior Counsel P. Wilson, appearing for the trust, brought it to the notice of the court that NCSC had summoned Managing Trustee M.K. Stalin, also president of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, for an inquiry, the judge said it would be sufficient if his representative attended the inquiry with a list of documents in their possession to prove the title.

The court was also told that the commission had issued a notice on December 13 asking Mr. Stalin to appear before Mr. Murugan in New Delhi on January 7. However, following a telephonic conversation, the inquiry appeared to have been advanced to Friday (January 3), though no written notice was issued in that regard, the petitioner’s affidavit read.

Questioning the authority of the Commission to inquire into the title of a property, the Trust stated that only a civil court and no other body could determine the ownership. Though the Trust was in possession of documents dating way back to 1937 to prove its title, it need not submit itself before an authority that lacks jurisdiction, the senior counsel argued.

‘Political motive’

Further, accusing the complainant of having approached the commission solely with a political motive since he was not a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste, the Trust said huge publicity given by BJP members to Mr. Murugan when he was conferred a doctorate by the University of Madras in November last clearly demonstrated the amount of bias.

According to the complainant, the Trust constructed the office of Murasoli, the official organ of DMK, on the panchami land meant for welfare of Scheduled Castes. However, Mr. Wilson claimed before the court that former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa herself had gone on record to state that there was no panchami land at all in entire Chennai city.

He urged the court to restrain the NCSC from proceeding with the hearing of the complaint and also sought an interim stay purely on the ground of jurisdiction of the commission to inquire into such issues. In his second limb of argument, the senior counsel levelled allegations of bias against the vice-chairman of the commission in particular.

After hearing him, the judge directed the counsel for NCSC to get instructions regarding the quorum required to conduct such inquiries.

He also wanted to know whether the chairperson or other members of the commission could replace the vice-chairman on the inquiry panel if any such necessity arose.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:12:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/murasoli-trust-accuses-ncsc-vice-chairman-of-bias/article30465001.ece

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