Thursday, Sep 18, 2003
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By J. Venkatesan
Tamil Nadu has sent minimum details to the committee that nine cases were registered in the State under POTA and 42 arrests were made and questioned the jurisdiction of the committee contending that already a State appointed review committee had been constituted.
But the committee asserted its position and sent to the State Government a copy of the notification issued by the Centre vesting powers to review all the arrests made in the country under POTA.
Meanwhile, the committee received 16 complaints including three in respect of Mr. Vaiko, three in respect of Editor of the Tamil bi-weekly Nakkeeran, R.R. Gopal, and they were forwarded to the State Government for its point-by-point remarks.
Talking to The Hindu, Justice Saharya said the committee was yet to receive any reply from Tamil Nadu for the three letters it had sent in July and August and the committee was left with no alternative except to collect relevant information from the victims, complainants, media personnel and NGOs.
He said the details were expected to be obtained before the end of this month and thereafter the committee would start its review.
Justice Saharya said, "we would like the State Government to participate in the enquiry, if not we will go ahead on the basis of materials with us and draw our own inference. Our anxiety is to expedite the process, which is inherent in the nature of work assigned to us".
To a question whether the case of Mr. Vaiko languishing in prison since last July would be taken up first, he said "we have asked the MDMK the verbatim English translation of the speech purported to have been made by Mr. Vaiko at Thirumangalam near Madurai in June last, details regarding who convened the meeting, English copy of the resolutions, if any passed at the meeting. We will commence the review soon after the receipt of these information as copies of FIRs, chargesheet, witness statements have been furnished to us".
Asked the response of other States, he said 15 States had sent nil arrests, six had sent some information regarding cases registered under POTA. The States of Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand had not replied so far.
On the response of political parties, he said except for the CPI, the CPI(M) and the CPI(ML), which had conveyed their opposition to invoking POTA, other parties were yet to give their views.
He said some Bar Associations had sent suggestions. In particular, the Madras Bar Association, headed by R. Gandhi had urged the committee to review the cases of political leaders arrested under POTA.
He said prominent NGOs had also sent their comments.
The committee would take stock of the situation at its next meeting to be held shortly and decide the procedure to be adopted.
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