Sterlite stir: HC wants all cases clubbed together

By NT Bureau Published on Aug 02, 2018 04:06 PM IST

Chennai: After summoning the Thoothukudi Collector to be present at the Court premises recently, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court today directed that all cases pertaining to the anti-Sterlite protests that took place this May, be dealt with as one.

The High Court has been hearing petitions on the violence that took place on 22 and 23 May and had earlier asked if it is a democratic Tamilnadu or a police raj, rapping the officials over detention of Thoothukudi lawyer Hariraghavan.

Today, it said all 173 cases should be clubbed into one.

The police had filed cases over many individuals who took part in the protests and even used the National Security Act (NSA) on certain persons. The Court had asked how the Collector could sign the NSA file despite the Court offering bail to the persons.

As many as 92 cases had been registered against Hariragavan on charges of instigating violence during the protest against Sterlite in Thoothukudi. He was later granted bail 24 July by the same Court.

Earlier this week, a division Bench headed by Justice C T Selvam got furious after learning that information regarding conditional bail were suppressed in the detention order served.

Further, the Judges pulled up Thoothukudi Collector for signing the detention order, even without considering the Court's direction in the bail order, where it was clearly mentioned that the advocate will not involve himself in Sterlite issue for 90 days.

The Madras High had also directed the CB-CID to submit the case diary related to the police firing and violence during the protests against Sterlite's copper plant in Tuticorin.

Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed of the Madurai Bench gave the interim order during the hearing of a batch of petitions related to the police firing and violence that left 13 people dead. The judges also sought to know whether permission for opening fire was given orally or by a written order.

As many as 13 people were killed in police firing on 22 and 23 when violence broke out during the protest by locals, demanding closure of the Sterlite plant, a unit of Vedanta Limited, over pollution issues. After the violence, the state government ordered the unit's closure.

Earlier, sandeep Nanduri had dismissed claims that the Sterlite copper smelting plant is going to be reopened in Thoothukudi. "Such claims are false. As per State government's order, there is no chance of opening the plant again," he said.

The Collector also said 99 per cent of the effluents has been safely removed from the plant.