Monday, January 30, 2023

Madras HC grants anticipatory bail to BJP workers who abused Palanivel Thiagarajan

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The Madras High Court granted anticipatory bail to BJP workers who allegedly waylaid the car of Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, abused and insulted him on August 13, 2022.

A single-judge bench of Justice G. Ilangovan passed this order while hearing the anticipatory bail application filed by Gokul Ajith, Vengaimaran and Manikandan.

The petitioners, who are arrayed as accused persons apprehending arrest at the hands of the respondent police for the offences punishable under sections 147, 341, 294(b), 355, 353, 506(2) IPC r/w 7(1) of Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932, altered and added 120(B) IPC and Section 2 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act in Crime on the file of the respondent police, sought anticipatory bail.

The petitioners hold various official positions in the BJP. The case of the prosecution is that on 13/08/2022, one Lakshmanan, who was a Jawan attached to Indian Army, was killed in Jammu & Kashmir and the body arrived at Madurai Airport and the State Honours was arranged.

At that time, Finance Minister Thiagarajan, the District Collector and other Government Officials went to the airport premises and the de-facto complainant and other police officials were put on duty. At that time, one Dr Saravanan, who is the District President of a political party along with 30 others, assembled in the Airport premises and argued that they must be given first right to pay homage to the deceased.

The Government Officials, who were present in the Airport, stated that the first honour must be given only as per protocol and they will be permitted later. They were removed from that place by the police team. After the arrival of the body of the deceased, Finance Minister Thigarajan paid homage. After paying the homage, he was returning by car. At that time, at about 12.30 pm, all the accused persons, who belong to the above said political party numbering about 30, waylaid the car and abused him in filthy language, tried to cause damage to the car and criminally intimidated him.

Not only that, they also threw slippers at the car. Based upon the above said occurrence, the case was registered for the offences punishable under sections 147, 294(b), 341, 353, 355, 506(2) IPC r/w 7(1)(A) of Criminal Law Amendment Act 1932.

The counsel appearing for the petitioners submitted that some of the accused persons have been taken to remand and the concerned Judicial Magistrate, who was on duty refused to remand. Some other accused persons were remanded to custody. The 3rd request for the remand of one accused person was also rejected. They were released on their own bond. So according to him, absolutely, what had happened is nothing, but an unfortunate event. Now after refusal of the remand, the police has filed an alteration report by altering the offence by including the offence under Section 2 of Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971 and they are about to arrest the petitioners.

Per contra, the Additional Advocate General appearing for the respondent/State submitted that the case cannot be taken as a routine and normal case, which do not require any arrest and remand. The situation and circumstance under which the present offence said to have been committed by the petitioners must be viewed very seriously. As per the protocol, only the State Government has the first right to pay homage to the martyr. Here, demanding first homage right, the petitioners, along with others created trouble. So they wanted to overtake the Government’s right in paying the homage. Not only they have insulted the Finance Minister by abusing him and by throwing chappals. At the time of the above said occurrence, the car, in which the Finance Minister was travelling, also bearing the national flag. It is not only an insult and assault upon the Finance Minister, but is an insult to the national flag also.

According to him, the discretionary relief of anticipatory bail should not be exercised and extended to the people like that of the petitioners and they must be subjected to the course of arrest and custodial interrogation.

In reply to the above said argument, it is contended by the counsel appearing for the petitioners that absolutely, there was no intention on the part of the petitioners, either to insult the Finance Minister or to insult the national flag. Some sort of provocative words were used by the Finance Minister and that caused tension in that place. Because of provocation only, the occurrence is said to have taken place. According to him, the petitioners should not be blamed for the occurrence.

The Court said that, no doubt, what happened is very unfortunate. Political ideologies may differ and must differ also. By that process, only democracy thrives and the society evolves to a new desired polity. But at the same time, while exercising the democratic right, when the same turn violent and ugly, then the casualty will not be the political opponent, but the society at large which every political party intends to serve and evolve. But here, the decency, morality and ethics have been thrown to wind by the petitioners. They have to regret it. There cannot be a second opinion on that.

On going through the affidavits, the Additional Advocate General has submitted that the offence of such kind and nature should not be permitted to go free on the basis of the affidavit of regret. The affidavits have been cleverly drafted and no undertaking has been given by the petitioners with regard to the future conduct, the Court noted.

On going through the affidavits, the court is of the view that as directed by the court, they expressed their regret. The court also feels that it is a heartful one. No doubt, as pointed out by the Additional Advocate General, such sort of act shall be viewed seriously. Should be avoided in public in any such situation. He has also expressed fear that if anticipatory bail is granted in like manner by accepting the letter of regret, then it can be taken as precedent in future also. So according to him, this sort of escape route should not be permitted by the court.

“No doubt the fear of the Additional Advocate General is true. But at the same time, as mentioned earlier, it is not a pre-planned one and some unusual happenings had taken place. When the petitioners come forward with heartfelt regret, that must be accepted by this court by giving them the opportunity to correct themselves. No purpose is going to be served by arresting the petitioners and getting regular bail.

So I am of the considered view that with some conditions they can be granted anticipatory bail on condition that they must stay at Salem and report before the Judicial Magistrate, Salem, daily at 10.30 am until further orders. If any violation is noticed in future about their undertaking that is given before this court, then the anticipatory bail that has been granted to them shall stand automatically cancelled and the respondent is at liberty to take appropriate action,” the Court observed.

Considering the above facts and circumstances of the case, the court is inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioners with the conditions.

“Accordingly, the petitioners are ordered to be released on bail in the event of arrest or on their appearance before the Judicial Magistrate, Madurai and on each of them executing a bond for a sum of Rs 10,000 with two sureties each for a like sum to the satisfaction of the Judicial Magistrate concerned and the petitioners shall stay at Salem and report before the Judicial Magistrate, Salem, daily at 10.30 am until further orders.

The petitioners shall comply with the condition stipulated under Section 438 CrPC scrupulously,” the Court ordered.

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