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MDMK plea for stay of POTA case trial dismissed as withdrawn

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, MARCH 19. The Supreme Court today "dismissed as withdrawn" a special leave petition filed by Madurai Ganesan and seven other Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionaries seeking a stay of the trial pending against them and the general secretary, Vaiko, before the POTA court at Poonamallee near Chennai.

All the nine were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in connection with a public meeting organised by the MDMK on June 29, 2002 at Tirumangalam near Madurai. They were later released on bail. A Bench of Justice S. Rajendra Babu, Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.P. Mathur told A.K. Ganguly, senior counsel, that since the trial was to be completed by June 30, no stay could be granted.

Mr. Ganguly pleaded that liberty be granted to the petitioners to approach the trial court again seeking discharge from the case, as it had no occasion to consider the apex court judgment on the POTA and clarification of the scope of Section 21(under which the nine were arrested). The Bench recorded his submissions..

Besides Ganesan, Alagusundaram, Ganesamoorthy, Veera Ilavarasan, Boominathan, Sevanthiappan, P.S. Maniam and Nagarajan challenged a February 17 Madras High Court order rejecting their discharge plea. They contended that the High Court had committed a grave error not considering the apex court judgment that for one to attract Section 21 there must be an intention on one's part to support terrorist organisation in its terrorist activities and that mere verbal support would not attract that provision.

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