VELLORE:A 20-year-old has been languishing in a Borstal School for over 45 days. But he hasn’t committed any crime; neither does he have any criminal antecedent. Yet, the police arrested him, invoking the Criminal Law Act, which empowers them to detain a person just on the ground of suspicion. Arunachalam, the youth, who is a daily wager, was returning to his house in Bagayam by foot past midnight on February 15 after unloading vegetables at Netaji market, when cops picked him up and took him to the North Police Station. He claims to have been detained there for two days. “I was lodged in prison on February 17,” he said.
“I had been working at the market for two years and never indulged in any anti-social activity. I told the police to take me there so I could show them my employer and others, but they took me to the station. I still don’t know why I was arrested,” says the youngster, who was booked under Section 151 (knowingly joining in assembly of five) of the IPC and Section 7 (1) (a) (intent to cause any person to abstain from doing or to do any act which such person has a right to do or to abstain from doing) of the Criminal Law Act. He was arrested with a few others — who moved court and came out on bail — and produced before the court concerned. But after the mandatory period of 15 days, his remand was not extended. Arunachalam does not have the wherewithal to employ a lawyer.
However, the issue caught the attention of a team of judges headed by Vellore Principal District Judge S Ananthi that carried out an inspection at the Borstal School on March 3. The PDJ ordered the District Legal Services Authority to take steps to release him on bail, and a bail petition was filed at the Judicial Magistrate Court IV on Wednesday. The hearing has been posted for Friday. A police officer attached to the North Police Station, however, denied arresting the boy on grounds of mere suspicion.