Chennai, Oct. 4: The special court trying Vaiko under the anti-terror law today rapped the prosecution for overshooting the “time schedule” for investigations, but agreed to remand the MDMK leader in judicial custody till Wednesday.
“I’m not interfering with the investigations,” designated judge L. Rajendran said in the Ponamalle court this afternoon after two hours of heated arguments. But he made it clear that the probe pace required speeding up though the Prevention of Terrorism Act provided for extending remand beyond the customary 90 up to 180 days.
Before Vaiko was led back to Vellore Central jail, the atmosphere outside the court was festive with MDMK loyalists hailing their leader for “completing 90 days in custody” without police having filed a chargesheet. The slogan “Freedom to Vaiko” was also scribbled in chalk on several public buses.
Submitting a 10-page report on investigations into the case of Vaiko making pro-Tamil Tiger statements at a rally near Madurai in June, the prosecutor said remand for all the arrested needed to be extended by another 30 days. This was required as further investigation against each of the accused would have to be done and “the prosecution must be given an opportunity to proceed with a free and fair investigation”.
The counsels for the accused, however, raised a host of technical issues against extending the remand. They demanded that the prosecution clarify at what stage investigations were and list “specific reasons” why more time was required. The accused would then have to be intimated as they were members of a recognised political party and “will not abscond”, they said.
But the prosecution contended the accused were not entitled to the remand report. “My special report and remand report cannot be separate at this stage,” he said.
The judge, while agreeing with the prosecution’s right to seek remand extension beyond 90 days under the anti-terror law, asked: “Will you investigate by the period you have mentioned against each of the accused or is it just a prophecy'”
While Vaiko has been remanded till October 9, the rest will remain in judical custody till October 28.
Vaiko was unfazed by today’s development. As he ambled from the courtroom to the police van, he came down heavily on the Jayalalithaa regime for initiating moves to hike PDS rice prices and scrap free supply of electricity to farmers.
Switching to the Tamil Tiger issue, he said key world nations had come forward to welcome the peace talks between the Sri Lanka and the LTTE, but two women were stumbling blocks. One was the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the other was Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, who “arrests people under Pota even for uttering the word ‘Eelam Tamils’”.