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Since 1st March, 1999
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TN served terror-law showcause
- Central review committee indicates arrests of Vaiko and Gopal unjustified

New Delhi, Nov. 13: Invoking the statutory powers conferred on it last month, the central anti-terror law review committee today showcaused Tamil Nadu and indicated that the arrests of Vaiko and R.R. Gopal were unjustified.

Asked if the arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were wrong, panel chairman Justice A.B. Saharya said: “That is why we have issued the showcause notice…. You draw the inference.”

The state has been asked to answer by December 2 why MDMK chief Vaiko and Gopal, the editor of Tamil bi-weekly Nakkeeran, were arrested and whether the action was proper.

The notice issued today by Justice Saharya after he met fellow panel members, retired IPS officer Arvind S. Inamdar and retired IAS officer M.U. Rehman, dealt another blow to the Jayalalithaa government after the Supreme Court stayed the arrest of five senior journalists of The Hindu and the editor of DMK mouthpiece Murasoli.

“The committee considered the entire material placed before it and decided to issue a notice of showcause to the Tamil Nadu government in these two cases,” he said.

The ordinance, cleared by the Union cabinet on October 21 and promulgated subsequently, makes the panel’s views binding on all parties concerned — the Centre, the state and police. But once chargesheets are filed and charges framed in a court, the court has to decide the case.

Vaiko’s and Gopal’s cases fall in a grey area as it is not yet known what powers the panel will have in cases already committed to trial. The two cases are the first ever under the law.

The panel also called for all relevant records from the state government, which was warned of proceedings based on available material if it failed to reply. It also clarified that the records to be presented in the case of Vaiko, who has been in jail for over a year for allegedly supporting the LTTE, should include the police diary.

Justice Saharya said the committee would consider all the material leading up to the registration of the case and obtaining sanctions required by law to prosecute.

On the speech and the posters based on which the law was slapped on Vaiko, Justice Saharya indicated these were not enough to warrant the action. “We have gone through the relevant materials placed before us by the state government and have issued the showcause notice.”

The meeting also discussed such cases in other states. Justice Saharya said the panel was awaiting a reply on the cases of Independent legislator Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiyya, and other accused.

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