Court directs State to form review panel

Special Correspondent

To consider case filed under TADA "The committee shall examine the matter and make appropriate recommendations to the Government within four weeks"

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu Government to constitute a Review Committee/Screening Committee to consider a case filed under the provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA).

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru passed the order, allowing a writ appeal filed by E. Shahul Hameed, who is facing trial for offences under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the TADA.

A single judge had rejected his prayer to constitute a Review Committee, on the ground that once a trial in a case had commenced or was pending or charge-sheet was filed and cognisance was taken by the court, the criminal court concerned alone had the powers to either charge or discharge or acquit or convict the person concerned.

However, rejecting the single judge ruling, the Bench said: "In our opinion, the role of the Review Committee/Screening Committee is completely misconstrued by the single judge." Maintaining that the exercise of power by the committee could not be termed as encroachment on the judicial power, the Judges said: "The Committee constituted in terms of the decision in Kartar Singh's case can always decide as to whether, in its opinion, the case is a fit one to proceed even if it is at the trial stage. If the committee comes to a conclusion that the case is fit to be withdrawn from prosecution under TADA, it can address the State Government, which, in turn, has to instruct the Public Prosecutor to invoke Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure... Thus, the view of the single judge that only those cases, which are pending at the stage of investigation, are to be reviewed by the Review Committee is completely erroneous."

It then directed the State Government to constitute a committee within four weeks to review Mr. Hameed's case. The committee shall examine the matter and make appropriate recommendations to the Government within four weeks thereafter, and the State shall take appropriate action in accordance with the recommendations of the committee, the Judges said.