CHENNAI: After giving a long rope, a division bench of the Madras High Court has issued notice on a batch of contempt applications seeking to punish Home secretary Niranjan Mardi, Additional DGP Abash Kumar and Coimbatore central prison SP R Krishna Raj.
The case relates to not obeying the court’s earlier orders passed in 2018 and early 2019 which directed officials to order premature release of certain convicts as per a government order dated February 2, 2018. “Having no other option, we are constrained to admit these contempt petitions and issue statutory notice to the respondents (the three authorities)”, said a bench of Justices M M Sundresh and RMT Teekaa Raman.
The judges, however, have offered one more opportunity. “Even here, we are inclined to inform the respondents to the effect that if they either comply with the orders under contempt or get appropriate orders from the Supreme Court...” In that case they need not appear before this court. Otherwise, they will have to appear before the court after four weeks, the bench said.
Originally, the government had ordered the premature release of over 1,000 life convicts on the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of former Chief Minister and AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran, by a GO dated February 1, 2018.
As certain prisoners were not released, their relatives moved the High Court with a batch of habeas corpus petitions. The court on various dates in 2018 and early 2019 ordered premature release of the life convicts concerned. But, officials did not oblige despite the court’s subsequent orders. Hence, the petitioners preferred the present applications seeking to punish the officials for contempt.
When the matter came up on several occasions, government counsel prayed for time. Finally, when the matter came up on November 21, Additional Advocate- General told the judges that the State had preferred appeals and they were coming up for hearing on November 25. The matter was adjourned to November 26.