The Madras High Court on Saturday restrained the Coimbatore police from taking coercive action against DMK MPs T.R. Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran till Friday in two different cases booked against them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.
Justice M. Nirmal Kumar granted the interim relief following petitions filed by the MPs to quash the cases and grant anticipatory bail to them.
While Mr. Baalu wanted the case booked by Thudialur police to be quashed, Mr. Maran insisted upon quashing the case booked by Coimbatore city police.
The judge held a special sitting from his residence through video conferencing on Saturday since the two MPs had rushed to the court following the arrest of another DMK MP R.S. Bharathi by Chennai city police in yet another case booked against him under the SC/ST Act.
Senior counsel P. Wilson, N.R. Elango and AR.L. Sundaresan appeared for the two MPs while State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan argued for the police. In his petition, Mr. Maran said he, Mr. Baalu and other party leaders had met Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam in the Secretariat on May 13 with regard to COVID-19 relief activities.
Later, while briefing the media about alleged humiliation meted out to them at the Chief Secretarys office, he (Mr. Maran) had unintentionally uttered the word Thazhthapattavargal (a reference to Dalits) instead of Thaazhvaga (lowly). The entire speech would reveal the same.
On the very next day, he had clarified the same and stated that his intention was never to hurt anyone and if at all his words had hurt the feelings of anyone, he regrets the same. Having clarified, the said issue was put to rest. Mr Maran accused the complainant M. Jeganathan of having lodged a complaint with an ulterior motive on May 18.
In his petition, Mr. Baalu said, he had not been listed as an accused in the FIR registered against Mr. Maran. However, acting on the basis of an identical complaint lodged by another individual named K. Sekar of Kavundampalayam, the Thudiyalur police in Coimbatore registered another FIR in which he too was included as an accused.
Strangely, both the complainants had preferred identical complaints even without any change in comma and full stop, he claimed.
However, Mr. Natarajan told the court that more than 10 complaints had been preferred before different police stations in the State against the two MPs following their press briefing and sought a weeks time to file a detailed reply.
The judge accepted the submission and adjourned the hearing on the petitions by a week with a direction to the police to maintain status quo till then.