The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Victorious’ Vaiko won’t stand down

Chennai, Nov. 22: Vaiko today stood up on his tired legs for the right to sit down. But told by the bench that the chair is always his, the firebrand prolonged the agony for another 45 minutes.

The MDMK leader and member of Parliament — now in judicial remand under the new anti-terrorism law on charges of making pro-LTTE statements — today complained to a special court that he and the other accused in the case had to “remain standing” last month during the entire proceedings which lasted over an hour.

Vaiko said it flouted a Supreme Court judgment on how accused should be treated in court.

He referred to the Avtar Singh versus Madhya Pradesh State case of 1981, saying the verdict had laid down that the accused “may be permitted to sit down during the trial unless it became necessary to stand up for the specific purpose of identification”.

“During our last appearance in this court on October 28, we were directed to stand up” throughout the proceedings, Vaiko said.

He pointed out that during the earlier hearings for extending judicial remand since his arrest on July 11, the accused were permitted to sit. “I cannot understand why the treatment has suddenly changed,” he said, adding that he did not expect any special courtesy in the court.

The packed court was stunned but the unflappable special judge, Rajendran, said this could not be made an issue.

Denying there was any sudden change of course last month, the judge said: “We are not giving any impartial or partial treatment to anyone in the court. Even in heinous offences, I have asked the accused to sit down and I have the greatest regard for the dictum of the Supreme Court.”

The judge then reconstructed the events that took place last month to jog Vaiko’s memory.

The judge said that when the public prosecutor had started addressing the court, “I expected you to stand up”.

“Later, when I said ‘you all please take your chairs’, you had refrained,” the judge added.

He said it was “unfortunate” that Vaiko had misunderstood him on that occasion. “The treatment everyone gets here is the same,” the judge added.

However, Vaiko was not convinced. All the accused in the case stood through today’s 45-minute proceedings.

The court extended their remand up to December 18 after the public prosecutor said investigation was yet to be completed in certain crucial aspects of the case.

The prosecutor complained that the MDMK’s chartered accountant declined to divulge some information on bank accounts. The auditor told the investigators that only the minister concerned (of the MDMK) in the Union Cabinet was aware of the accounts.

This, the prosecutor said, had added “to our burden” and delayed the investigation. The prosecutor assured the court that a chargesheet would be filed by the end of December.

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