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Kanchi case: Goondas Act detentions quashed

Thursday 5 May 2005

Chennai, May 5. (PTI): In a major setback to Tamil Nadu Government, Madras High Court today set aside the detention of 11 Sankararaman murder case accused, including junior Seer Vijayendra Saraswathi’s brother Raghu and Kanchi mutt manager Sundaresa Iyer, under the Goondas Act.

Allowing habeas corpus petitions filed by the 11 challenging their detentions under the Act, which is normally invoked to maintain public order and against habitual offenders, a Division Bench comprising Justice M Karpagavinayagam and Justice C Nagappan said the police had not justified their action detaining them under the Act.

"The police had neither collected nor placed any material before the detaining authority to show that as a result of the murder of Sankararaman, a Kancheepuram temple official, public order and even the tempo of life had been greatly affected," the judges observed.

Holding that the incidents quoted in the detention order did not amount to disturbance to public order, they said the failure of the detaining authority to verify about the applicablity of the disturbance to public order in these cases would vitiate the detention orders and therefore "they are held to be not legal and accordingly quashed."

The detenus were directed to be set at liberty forthwith unless required in connection with any other case.

Bid for bail in HC also

Counsel for Sundaresa Iyer and Raghu said they are likely to move the High Court for bail in the Sankararaman case in which Kanchi Seers Jayendra Saraswathi and Vijayendra Saraswathi are the prime accused.

The brother of Raghu, who had moved the habeas corpus petition, had alleged that the detention of his brother under the Goondas Act was "mala fide" and passed solely to stifle Raghu’s attempt to secure bail in the Sankararaman case.

Claiming that there was no nexus or proximity between the incident and the detention order of January 21, the petitioner alleged that the "detaining authority has erred in branding the detenu as a goonda."

The government had invoked the Act against 16 of the 24 accused in the case.

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