Friday, August 31, 2007

SC transfers Azhagiri case to Chittoor

Case against Azhagiri transferred to Chittoor sessions court

J. Venkatesan

Apex Court directs Madurai court to transfer the records


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday shifted the trial pending in the Madurai sessions court against M.K. Azhagiri, son of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and others, accused in the T. Kiruttinan murder case from the Madurai sessions court to the sessions court in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh.

A Bench of Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice V.S. Sirpurkar told senior counsel, Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Azhagiri, “The shifting of the trial is not because you [Azhagiri] are the son of the Chief Minister. You are an acknowledged leader of that area. It only disturbs us. The Presiding Officer of the court had also expressed apprehensions. We feel that the case should be transferred so that people have confidence in trial.”

Acting on a transfer petition filed by Muthuramalingam, the apex court in January this year had stayed the trial and issued notice to the State Government, Azhagiri and others.

In May, Sureshkumar had filed a similar petition and brought to the notice of the court the incidents in Madurai when the offices of Tamil newspaper Dinakaran and Sun TV network were set on fire resulting in the death of three perso ns.

Mr. Sureshkumar cited as a witness in the case had alleged that Azhagiri, being the son of the Chief Minister, was wielding enormous manpower and muscle power in and around Madurai.

The May 9 incident would establish without doubt that the apprehensions of the petitioner were fully justified and that there would not be free and fair trial uninfluenced by the position of Azhagiri.

The Tamil Nadu Government and Azhagiri denied the allegations without making any reference to the May 9 incidents. When the matter was taken up on Monday, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the State said that though the government was denying all the allegations, it would accept whatever order passed by the court. He said “Our concern is if something goes wrong in the trial then people will say, `See what happened.’ We don’t want to give that impression.”

Transfer opposed

Senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Azhagiri, opposed the transfer of the trial saying, “Why should you assume that fair trial is not possible in the whole of Tamil Nadu. You can transfer the case to any other district other than Madurai.” However, senior counsel Arun Jaitely and Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the petitioners, insisted that the case be shifted out of Tamil Nadu to ensure a free and fair trial.

After hearing the counsel, the Bench ordered the transfer of the case and asked the sessions judge to dispose it of as expeditiously as possible. It asked the Madurai court to transfer the records to Chittoor and directed the prosecution to render all assistance in the trial.

© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu

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THE HINDU

http://www.thehindu.com/2007/08/28/stories/2007082850030100.htm

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