The Madras High Court on Tuesday issued suo-motu contempt of court notices to police personnel, including Erode Superintendent of Police R Ponni, in the case relating to the arrest of S Thangaraj, the Judicial Magistrate of Coonoor.
The first bench comprising Acting Chief Justice RK Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan also asked the police personnel to appear on July 29.
“Blatant misuse of powers, scant regard and disrespect to the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in ‘the Delhi Judicial Service Association vs State of Gujarat case’ have compelled us to take a suo-motu action for committing contempt by the five police officers,” the judges said. This followed an intervention by TN Advocates Association president S Prabakaran, who produced a copy of the judgment of the SC to the bench.
After going through the judgment, the bench issued the notice seeking explanation from the police. They included, besides Ponni, Palladam DSP Suresh Kumar, Udumalpet DSP C Pitchai, Komarapalayam Inspector K Shanthamoorthy and Palladam All Women Police Station Sub-Inspector.
It appears from the reports of the Registrar-General of the Madras HC and the Nilgiris District Judge-cum-Judicial Magistrate (DJ-JM) that Thangaraj (31) was picked up by the personnel at 6.30 am on June 29 in a police vehicle and was lodged in the Avinashi Highways Tourist Bungalow till 12.20 pm. While the JM was officially arrested at 8.45 am, the DJ-JM was kept in dark and no information was given before the arrest or immediately after the arrest. On the other hand, he was informed that the investigation was going on and was to be arrested. The actual information about the arrest was given at around 12.30 pm.
These officers could not have acted on their own, unless they had the backing of SP Ponni, who was holding additional charge of Tirupur that day. This shows the police officers had scant respect to the guidelines framed by the SC. “Taking suo-motu cognizance, we issue notice to the persons to appear personally before this court on July 29 and explain their stand,” the bench said.