Saturday, October 13, 2012

Veerapandi Arumugam’s detention under Goondas Act set aside

Former DMK Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam. File Photo
The Madras High Court on Friday set aside the detention of the former DMK Minister, Veerapandi S.Arumugam, and two others, including his political personal assistant, under the Goondas Act. The former Minister had been lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore.
In its nearly 90-page common order, a Division Bench comprising Justices K.N.Basha and N.Paul Vasanthakumar said it came to the irresistible conclusion that all the grounds raised by the detenus were sustainable.

Habeas Corpus Petitions were filed seeking to quash the orders of detention of Mr.Veerapandi Arumugam, his political PA, Gowsiga Boopathy, and Parapatty Suresh alias Sureshkumar, an advocate, under the Goondas Act and set them at liberty. They were detained on the Salem Police Commissioner’s orders. The main basis for passing the detention order related to land grabbing in Angammal Colony in Salem city and other places. While Mr.Arumugam was detained on June 18, Mr.Suresh and Mr.Gowsiga Boopathy were detained on January 28 and February 28 this year.

Senior counsel for the detenus, N.Natarajan and R.Shanmugasundaram, argued that the detention orders against Parapatty Suresh and Gowsiga Boopathy were liable to be set aside as the grounds of detention as well as the booklet containing the documents were not served within five days as contemplated under Section 8 (1) of the Goondas Act. As a result, the detenus were unable to give an effective representation before the detaining authority within 12 days.

The other points argued included that the Sponsoring Authority had failed to place the vital documents before the Detaining Authority. As such the subjective satisfaction arrived at by the Detaining Authority was vitiated, rendering the detention order illegal.

The Bench said it was evident that there was non-supply of the booklet containing the documents within five days. Because of this, the detenus were prevented from making an effective representation before the government objecting the approval of the detention orders. There was a clear violation of the statutory provision. Also, non-placing of vital documents before the Detaining Authority vitiated the impugned orders. If they had been placed, the Detaining Authority might have taken a different view.

Justices Basha and Paul Vasanthakumar said the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in various decisions would make it clear that non-furnishing of material and vital documents also vitiated the detention.

There was absolutely no `proximity’ and `live link’ between passing of the detention order and the offences alleged against the detenus. The detaining authority had not perused the entire material placed before him.

The detenus had not acted in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

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