The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaya truce on Kannappan arrest

New Delhi, Oct. 27: Jayalalithaa may have relented on her threat to arrest a Union minister for reportedly making a speech in favour of a banned Tamil separatist organisation, but she continues to breathe fire over a panel set up to review the anti-terror law.

At the same time, M. Kannappan, Union minister of state for non-conventional energy, continues to fear he may be arrested for having spoken in favour of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during a September 16 function.

A truce appears to have been reached today with the Tamil Nadu chief minister apparently agreeing not to arrest Kannappan after BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu said ministers should not speak as irresponsibly as the MDMK leader had done.

Kannappan has reason to fear Jayalalithaa for she jailed his party chief Vaiko in July 2002 for a similar offence. The chief minister wrote to Atal Bihari Vajpayee on September 22, asking him to drop Kannappan from the cabinet, saying she would have to arrest the minister under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

This made the Prime Minister advise the MDMK leader to avoid Tamil Nadu. Following this, the minister steered clear of the state even though he had many official engagements in Chennai and his Lok Sabha constituency of Thiruchengodu. But he has visited Tamil Nadu twice in the last 10 days after the Union law ministry ruled that prior Central approval was needed before arresting a minister.

Jayalalithaa opposes the Central decision to promulgate an ordinance to give statutory powers to the panel reviewing the anti-terror law. She says the move to make the recommendations binding on state governments and the Centre defeats the purpose for which the law was enacted.

The chief minister said in Chennai yesterday that the Centre’s decision would “nullify the efforts taken by progressive state governments like Tamil Nadu in putting down terrorist and subversive elements trying to disrupt peace and tranquility”.

But the Union law ministry has said the Centre will be able to proceed ex parte if the review panel’s notice on an individual’s complaints about the law being misused are ignored by a state government.

Since the state government had set up its own anti-terror law review committee, the decision of the Centre would amount to negating and thwarting the powers of the state in maintaining law and order, she said.

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