5 Aug 2008, 0322 hrs IST,TNN
NEW DELHI: Incensed by the repeated failure of Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and Union transport minister T R Baalu to respond to a contempt petition accusing them of participating in a bandh last year in breach of its order, the Supreme Court on Monday issued a veiled threat — "Do they need a bailable arrest warrant to appear personally and answer the charges."
The court had been acceding to the requests of Karunanidhi, Baalu, TN transport minister K N Nehru, chief secretary L K Tripathy, DGP P Rajendran and transport secretary Debendranath Sarangi since it issued notice to them on October 29 last year on a contempt petition filed by AIADMK.
AIADMK had accused them of flouting SC's September 30, 2007, order asking the state to maintain law and order as well as transport services on October 1, 2007, the day the DMK-led coalition had called a bandh in protest against the stalling of the Sethusamudram channel project.
Interestingly, during the hearing on the contempt petition, the SC had observed that constitutional machinery appeared to have broken down in TN warranting recommendation of President's rule in the state, a remark that had created a furore.
On Monday, a bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi was informed by TN counsel V G Pragasam that only the chief secretary and the DGP had filed their responses to the showcause notices. “What about the chief minister,” the bench asked and on learning that even the union transport minister had not filed his response to SC’s showcause notice, said, "They do not have the time to file reply. Just because you are a central minister does not mean you are above law and you would not care about the Supreme Court order. You think you can dictate terms to the Supreme Court. If this is their attitude, we will issue bailable arrest warrant against them and let them come and appear before the court."
The bench, which on March 31 had given four weeks for filing of responses, was anguished that none of the contemnors had the courtesy of honouring a Supreme Court deadline. Both the chief secretary and the DGP contended that they had not committed any contempt of court as all possible steps were taken on October 1, 2007, to maintain normalcy in the state in compliance of the apex court order. The CM, Pragasam said, has decided not to file a formal response and will adopt the stand taken by the chief secretary and the DGP. The bench said when CM was given four weeks time on March 31 to file his response, he did not give any indication about adopting the stand taken by his top officials.
The bench asked all respondents to file their responses within four weeks and also explain why they breached the deadline set for filing their replies to the contempt notices.
On a petition filed by AIADMK, the SC on September 30, 2007, had restrained all political parties from going ahead with the October 1 bandh, which was called by the DMK-led coalition to seek speeding up of the Sethusamudram project. The bench, while restraining DMK, CPM, CPI, Congress and PMK from going ahead with the bandh, had warned that as long as the 1998 judgment which termed bandh and hartal to be illegal was in operation, no political party could call for bandh as it inconvenienced people.
When AIADMK counsel Guru Krishna Kumar brought it to the notice of the apex court the very next day, on October 1, 2007, about the alleged violation of the court order, the Bench headed by Justice Agrawal had observed that the bandh organised in breach of orders would make it infer that constitutional machinery in the state had broken down warranting imposition of President’s rule. Pragasam had refuted the AIADMK charges and said only fast was undertaken by the leaders and that vehicles were plying normally.
Also read the related stories
Karunanidhi faces SC ire
Press Trust of India
NEW DELHI, Aug. 4: The Supreme Court today threatened to issue arrest warrants against Tamil Nadu chief minister Mr M Karunanidhi and Union minister Mr TR Baalu on the Sethusamudram bandh row, terming their belated compliance of its directive as “detestable”.
“You are not above everything. The chief minister is not above the law,” a Bench of Justices Mr BN Aggrawal and Mr GS Singhvi, observed while slamming the Tamil Nadu government for its attitude on the contempt petition relating to the state-sponsored bandh on the Sethusamudram project on 1 October, 2007.
The judges took strong exception to the delay made by the chief minister and the Union minister in sending their replies to the contempt notices issued by the SC about four months ago. “If this is your attitude, then let the chief minister and others appear. We will issue warrants of arrest. This is detestable,” the Bench said while wondering whether “something like this should happen in a court.” The SC, on a contempt petition of AIADMK chief Miss Jayalalithaa, filed in October last year, issued notices to the chief minister, Mr Baalu and four others for going ahead with the 1 October bandh despite the Bench restraining them. At that time, the SC had also threatened to recommend to the President a dismissal of the Karunanidhi government.
Referring to the Union transport minister Mr TR Baalu, the court asked: “Are you above the Supreme Court?” The SC gave vent to its ire after noticing that the chief minister, the Union transport minister and others, despite seeking repeated adjournments since October, had failed to properly respond to the notice.
While Mr Baalu had failed to file his response till date, Mr Karunanidhi's counsel took the stance that the chief minister intended to “adopt” the affidavit filed by the state chief secretary on the matter. The chief secretary and the state DGP, earlier in their affidavits, had claimed that all precautions had ben taken by the state government to ensure that normal life was not in any manner affected. However, when the matter came up for hearing today, the Bench wondered why the contempt petition had not been disposed of even though nearly a year had elapsed since it was filed.
At this stage, AIADMK counsel Mr Gurukrishna Kumar rose to submit that the contemners were delaying their replies despite the SC granting them a last opportunity on 31 March, 2008. The SC, however, granted four weeks' time to Mr Karunanidhi, Mr Baalu, the state chief secretary, the DGP and two others to file fresh replies along with explanations for the delay.
Are you above the law? SC asks Baalu
Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 04, 2008: The Supreme Court, on Monday, threatened to issue arrest warrants against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and Union Shipping Minister TR Baalu for undue delay in filing their replies to its contempt notice in connection with the October 1, 2007 Tamil Nadu bandh in support of the Sethusamudram Project.
"The Chief Minister is not above the law," a Bench headed by Justice BN Agrawal said taking strong exception to the attitude of the contemnors in delaying their response to the notices issued on October 29, 2007.
"Just because you (Baalu) are a central minister you don't have the time to file the reply and you can dictate terms." If this is your (contemnors') attitude, then let the Chief Minister and others appear. We will issue arrest warrants," the bench said. "Are you above the Supreme Court?" it asked.
Terming the contemnors' conduct as 'detestable,' the Bench wondered if "something like this should happen in the court?"
The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa accusing Karunanidhi, Baalu, state Transport Minister KK Nehru, state Chief Secretary, Transport Secretary and Director General of Police of violating the court's orders.
In a rare sitting on Sunday, the court had on September 30, 2007 restrained the Tamil Nadu Government from going ahead with the October 1, 2007 state-sponsored bandh for early implementation of the project.
The following day, the AIADMK filed a petition before the court seeking contempt action against them. The court had then threatened to recommend imposition of President's rule in the state leading to a confrontation between the judiciary and the executive.
What angered the court was that the contemnors had not filed their responses for almost a year despite repeatedly seeking time. Baalu, Nehru and Transport Secretary Debendranath Sarangi again sought time to file their replies. The court noted that it gave four weeks to them on March 31.
While Baalu has not filed his response, Karunanidhi's counsel said the CM would ‘adopt’ the affidavit filed by state Chief Secretary LK Tripathy. In an affidavit filed on July 31 the Chief Secretary and state DGP P Rajendran said they had taken the necessary steps to ensure that life was not crippled. The court granted four weeks to Karunanidhi, Baalu, Nehru, state Chief Secretary, Transport Secretary and the DGP to explain the delay.
Why the delay in filing response? court asks Karunanidhi, others
“Violation of court order against enforcing a bandh last year”
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathy and the then Director General of Police P. Rajendran to file written explanations in four weeks as to why there was an inordinate delay in filing a response to the contempt notice issued by the court on October 29, 2007.
A Bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi, hearing a contempt petition filed by the AIADMK, gave four weeks time to State Transport Secretary Debendranath Sarangi, Transport Minister K.N. Nehru and Union Minister T.R. Baalu for filing their replies. The Bench said their replies should also furnish reasons for not filing a response so far.
The notice was issued on a petition filed by the AIADMK against five respondents for allegedly violating a court order prohibiting the enforcement of a bandh in the State on October 1, 2007. The court, while dispensing with their personal appearance, had issued contempt notice to Union Minister T.R. Baalu for his alleged remarks criticising the judiciary. The petitioner alleged that there was wilful disobedience of the Supreme Court’s September 30, 2007 order prohibiting enforcement of the bandh.
When the matter was taken up, counsel for Tamil Nadu V.G. Pragasam submitted that the Chief Secretary and the [then] DGP had filed their replies. Counsel Guru Krishnakumar, appearing for the AIADMK, submitted that the Chief Minister and others, including Mr. Baalu, had not filed their responses. He said even the Chief Secretary and the then DGP had filed a reply only on July 30. Counsel for Mr. Baalu, Mr. Sarangi and Mr. Nehru sought time to file replies.
Justice Agrawal orally told counsel: “It is almost a year and by now the matter could have been disposed of. Your Chief Minister and the Union Minister have no time to file replies to the show cause. You are above the law! What type of people are you?”
Referring to Mr. Baalu, Justice Agarawal said: “Because you are in the Central government, do you think that you will do everything but you will not file your reply? You think you can dictate to this court also. If this is their [contemnors’] attitude we will issue warrant of arrest and let them come and appear in the court.”
Mr. Pragasam submitted that the Chief Minister had not filed a separate reply as he was adopting the reply of the Chief Secretary. Justice Agrawal told counsel: “You [CM] should have filed an affidavit to that effect.”
The Bench, in its brief order, said that notice was issued to the respondents on October 29, 2007.
Upon receipt of notice, the matter was listed on December 14, 2007 and six weeks time was taken to file replies. When the matter was taken up on March 31, in spite of the fact that three months had expired, further time was sought and four weeks time was granted.
The Bench said: “The case is placed before us today after five months. Two contemnors [respondents 1 and 2] have filed their show cause. When four weeks time was granted on March 31, we fail to understand why the respondents 1 and 2 have filed their show cause on July 30, after four months.”
The Bench noted that the Chief Secretary and the then DGP did not bother to give any reason for not filing the show cause in four weeks. It directed them to file affidavits in four weeks furnishing reasons for the delay in filing the response. The order also said that the Chief Minister (respondent 4) was adopting the affidavit of the Chief Secretary and he too should explain the delay.
The Bench said as a last chance, further four weeks time was granted to the other three respondents (the Transport Secretary, the Transport Minister, and Mr. Baalu) to file their replies, which should also furnish explanations for the delay in filing the responses.
The Bench, while granting a week’s time to the petitioner to file a rejoinder, directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on September 22.
© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu
SC warns CM, Baalu of arrest
Mon, 04 Aug, 2008,03:39 PM
Supreme Court Monday threatened to issue arrest warrants against Tamilnadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Union Transport Minister T R Baalu and four others for failing to respond to a contempt notice on the Sethusamudram bandh row.
A bench of Justice B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi, however, granted four weeks time to Baalu, Tamilnadu Chief Secretary, State DGP and two others to file their fresh replies to the show- cause notice issued by it.
The angry judges asked them, ‘What type of people are you. Are you above the law? Will you dictate this court also? We will issue arrest warrants against the Chief Minister and seek his personal appearance in the court.’
The bench took a serious view after noting that the Chief Minister and others failed to file their reply to the contempt notice issued by it in the first week of October last year.
The bench regretted that though the Tamilnadu government has been seeking time and adjournments frequently for filing the response on a show- cause notice, it pointed out that on 31 March this year the condemners sought four weeks time to file their replies but failed to do so.
AIADMK chief and Opposition leader J Jayalalithaa complained that response to the show- cause notice on contempt was filed only on 30 July.
The apex court after fresh request from the Tamilnadu counsel then granted four more weeks’ time to file replies on the contempt notices.
The apex court, in October last year, had issued contempt notices to the Chief Minister and others for going ahead with the 1 October State-wide bandh on the Sethusamudaram issue despite the bench restraining them.
At that time, the apex court had also threatened to recommend the President of India to dismiss the State government.
It may be recalled that the Tamilnadu government's apparent disregard of the Supreme Court’s order, restraining the government from going ahead with the bandh had angered the apex court. The court warned that it would initiate contempt of court proceedings, if necessary.
Bandh case: Tripathy tenders unconditional apology in court
Apology in response to contempt notice
Chief Minister adopts same stand as Chief Secretary
NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathy while maintaining that the State government had not violated the Supreme Court’s order banning the bandh on October 1, 2007 on the Sethusamudram issue has tendered an unconditional apology if the court was of the view that the order had not been effectively implemented.
The Chief Secretary stated this in his affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in response to the contempt notice issued on the AIADMK’s petition alleging that the order had been violated.
Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi did not file a separate affidavit but the State counsel told the court on Monday that the Chief Minister was adopting the stand of the Chief Secretary. The then DGP, Rajendran, filed a similar affidavit tendering an unconditional apology.
Mr. Tripathy said “this contemnor has got the highest regard and respect and obedience for the orders of this court and has not violated or intended to violate any of the orders passed by this court.” He said if the court was of the view that the order had not been effectively implemented, “it was not wilful and this first contemnor tenders his unconditional apology for the same and the court may be pleased to purge this contemnor from the contempt proceedings.”
Mr. Tripathy said the government received the court’s order at 10.30 p.m. on September 30, 2007 and instructions were issued over phone to the District Collectors regarding the measures to be taken for maintenance of law and order and public tranquillity and sustaining normalcy. He said that in view of the various steps taken, barring certain stray instances, no major act of violence or incident detrimental to law and order had been reported and the routine life of people passed off without any disturbance.
He said following the interim orders of the Supreme Court, the Democratic Progressive Alliance in the State decided to observe a fast on October 1, 2007. Hence, the contention of the petitioner that the State machinery did not take any action to ensure normalcy was not correct. The allegation that buses did not ply was incorrect, as buses were operated on 2,749 routes. Due to the visible presence of police, there were no complaints of obstructions of public transport and closure of shops and establishments. Seeking dismissal of the contempt petition, he said train services were maintained without any disruption and denied the petitioner’s allegation that the Supreme Court order was not enforced.
Earlier, a Bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and G.S. Singhvi directed the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the DGP to file written explanation as to why there was an inordinate delay in filing a response to the contempt notice issued by the court.
Justice Agrawal orally told counsel: “It is almost a year and by now the matter could have been disposed of. Your Chief Minister and Union Minister have no time to file replies to the show cause. You are above the law! What type of people are you?”
Referring to Union Minister Baalu, Justice Agrawal said: “Because you are in the Central government, do you think that you will do everything but you will not file your reply? You think you can dictate to this court also. If this is their [contemnors’] attitude we will issue warrant of arrest and let them come and appear in the court.”
© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu
Two government advocates removed
CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Monday ordered the removal of two government advocates in New Delhi, who had failed to file a counter in the Sethusamudram bandh contempt case in the Supreme Court.
The Chief Minister, on enquiring into the issue, found that “the present situation has been created because the Tamil Nadu government advocates in New Delhi did not take action in this case at the appropriate time.” The issue was also not brought to the Chief Minister’s notice within the time specified.
The Chief Minister, in a statement, said the DMK had always held the courts in high esteem and respected their pronouncements. In this situation, since the advocates appointed by the government in New Delhi – V.G. Pragasam and D. Harishkumar – did not bring the case to his notice early enough, he was asking them to accept moral responsibility for the episode. The government insisted that they tender their resignations from their posts, he said.
© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu
You are not above everything, SC tells MK
The New Indian Express ePaper
Arrest Warrant against CM: SC warned
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