TAMIL NADU

DMK files habeas corpus plea for Ilamvazhuthi release

CHENNAI Nov. 10 . The DMK treasurer, Arcot N. Veerasamy, has filed a habeas corpus petition in the Madras High Court, seeking a direction to the authorities to produce the party MLA, Parithi Ilamvazhuthi, now confined in the central prison, here, before the court, and to set him at liberty. The MLA was sentenced to a 30-day imprisonment by the Assembly for breach of privilege of the House.

The petition submitted that during the Budget session on January 30 this year, Mr. Ilamvazhuthi was alleged to have criminally intimidated another member, D. Kumaradoss of the AIADMK and attempted to cause his death inside the House. On a resolution moved by the Leader of the House, C. Ponnaiyan, the ``incident'' was referred to the Privileges Committee. By another resolution, the House suspended Mr. Ilamvazhithi from the entire Budget session. Subsequently, the House decided to forward a complaint to the Central Crime Branch, Chennai, which registered an FIR against the MLA. He was arrested the same day and lodged in the central prison here. Mr. Ilamvazhuthi was released on bail by the High Court on February 13, and investigation in the case was pending.

The MLA was summoned by the Privileges Committee on July 19, 2003, when he explained what occurred on January 30 and that a criminal case was pending on the same subject. He also submitted that the enquiry by the Committee was thus excessive, the petition said.

Noting that the Committee had recommended a 30-day sentence for the MLA, Mr. Veerasamy said the Committee proceedings were illegal as "the Legislative Assembly had divested itself of its jurisdiction to try him, by making a criminal complaint before the Central Crime Branch." The continuance of two penal proceedings was violative of Article 20 (2) of the Constitution. Also the recommendations of the Committee would not only influence the investigation but also cause grave injustice to the enquiry and trial, the petition stated.

It further submitted that all accepted principles of parliamentary procedures were thrown to the wind in awarding the sentence of imprisonment on Mr. Ilamvazhuthi. All the gates of the Assembly were closed and no one was allowed to go inside or come out. The closure of gates was normally done only when voting took place on sensitive issues. The MLA was arrested in the Assembly lobby, without any chance to know what was happening. He was not questioned about the quantum of sentence in the Assembly after the passing of the November 7 resolution, nor was he given a chance to explain about the quantum of sentence. The hearing of the accused after sentencing was a mandatory legal requirement contemplated under Section 235 (2) of the Cr.P.C. The non-compliance of this mandatory requirement would be violative of Article 21, as the detenu was deprived of his liberty for capricious and mala fide reasons.The petition prayed for a direction calling for the records pertaining to the Warrant of Commitment passed by the Speaker, dated November 7, 2003, and to set aside the same and direct the Chief Secretary, the Speaker, the Assembly Secretary and the Chennai Central Prison Superintendent to produce Mr. Ilamvazhuthi before the court and set him free. The matter is likely to come up before the High Court on Tuesday.

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