Karnataka yielding to illegal demands: S.C.

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 2. The Supreme Court, in its oral observations during a hearing of the ``Veerappan associates-release case'' expressed concern at the inability of the Karnataka Government in apprehending the forest brigand for the past eight years.

``What have you (the State Government) done for the past 8 years to apprehend that man? We make it clear it is the responsibility of the State Government to maintain law and order. If you cannot do it, then quit and make way for somebody else who can,'' a Bench said.

(According to a PTI report, the court rapped the Karnataka Government for succumbing to such ``illegal and unreasonable'' demands of the brigand to secure the release of the Kannada actor, Mr. Rajkumar.)

The Bench, comprising Mr. Justice S. P. Bharucha, Mr. Justice D. P. Mohapatra and Mr. Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, made the observations while directing that its August 29 interim order - that none of the respondents-accused (Veerappan associates') be released on bail or otherwise pending further orders - operate pending disposal of the appeal from Mr. Abdul Karim, a retired police officer.

Earlier, the Bench granted special leave to the appellant, father of sub-inspector Shakeel Ahmad who along with Superintendent of Police Harikrishna, was killed allegedly by Veerappan in 1992, to appeal against an August 19 order of the `designated court', Mysore, according ``consent'' to the special public prosecutor to withdraw charges for offences punishable under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (prevention) Act against certain accused (Veerappan associates).

In all, 115 accused (including Veerappan) were cited as respondents.

It is learnt that 51 accused who were ordered released on `bail' by the Sessions Judge, Mysore, on August 28 are on the list of the 115 accused (in the SLP). The Mysore sessions judge's order of August 28 is also under challenge in a related petition.

Earlier, Mr. Harish N. Salve, Solicitor-General, appearing for Karnataka, submitted that the impugned decision of the Government (to withdraw the `TADA' cases) was taken not to secure the release of a cine star (Mr. Rajkumar - kidnapped along with three others by Veerappan over a month ago) - but in the larger interest of the linguistic communities, harmony and tranquillity in the State.

At this, the Bench said, ``it is the State's responsibility to maintain law and order. Do not bring the judiciary or judicial process into it.''

The Bench observed that ``as the facts exist today, we will not give any relief'' (on the question of release of the Veerappan associates), ``as it amounts to compounding negligence upon negligence''.

The Bench wondered whether it was open to the State Government to say if it could not withdraw cases involving a series of rare offences against certain accused, it might cause public unrest. The State should protect every citizen, the Bench added.

Govt. sensitive: Krishna

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, SEPT. 2. The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr. S.M. Krishna, has said the Government is sensitive to the Supreme Court's orders in the matter of the release of 51 ex-TADA detenus from the Mysore jail. He was reacting to the directions of the Court, which yesterday stayed indefinitely the release of the detenus following a petition filed by the father of Shakeel Ahmed, sub- inspector, who was shot dead by the forest brigand, Veerappan.

The Chief Minister said the orders of the court and the release of Mr. Rajkumar from captivity of the brigand were two different subjects. Irrespective of whatever happened on the kidnap front, it should be remembered that the rule of law prevailed in the country. The State Government could not keep away from the law of the land, he added.

Mr. Krishna pointed out that even the Attorney- General, Mr. Soli Sorabjee, had in his submission said the Karnataka Government had done a fine act of balancing the decision to ensure the release of the prisoners on bail. ``He has succinctly placed the State's line of approach before the Supreme Court.'' On the Government's plea to the court that it had to take certain steps to prevent disturbances, the Chief Minister said no Government would be complete if it could not anticipate things. Given the present situation, there was every possibility of law and order in the State facing a threat. It did not, however, mean that law and order was bad.

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