Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday informed the Madras high court that the contempt petition filed by A.G.Ponmanickavel, special officer and head of Special Investigation Team, which sought to punish the authorities for committing contempt of court by not complying with the directions of the court in the matter relating to Idol theft cases, is not at all maintainable and it should be dismissed.
Additional advocate general Balaji Srinivasan made the submission when the contempt petition came up for hearing before a division bench comprising Justices R.Mahadevan and P.D.Audikesavalu.
He said this court framed a scheme by appointing a special officer and Special Investigation Team to probe into the alleged theft of idols in the state. The matter went to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the order of the high court.
However, the apex court had modified certain directions issued by this court. Since the order was modified by the apex court, the order of the high court was merged with the order of the Supreme Court. Therefore, if the petitioner has any grievance, he has to approach the Supreme Court and not this court. Hence, the present petition was not maintainable, he added.
Earlier, V.Selvaraj, counsel for the petitioner, recalling the back ground of the case, pointed out the non-compliance of the directions of the high court and therefore, the petitioner has filed the present contempt petition. Pursuant to the order of this court, so far 274 cases have been entrusted to the SIT. Thereafter 10 cases were registered but not handed over to the SIT. Apart from this, 174 cases have not been entrusted to SIT. Moreover, 102 personnel were repatriated and new men have to be appointed. There were directions from higher ups not to register some of the cases. Because of the non-availability of manpower and other infrastructure facilities, the investigation was stalled for months together. With regard to Natarajar Idol from Australia, the government has failed to bring them. The special officer went to New Delhi and collected the two idols from two persons from Australia, he added.
To a specific query from the bench why the government was hesitant to take action in spite of the order of this court and the Supreme Court and why no action was taken to bring the two idols from Australia, AAG Balaji Srinivasan submitted that the government has been taking steps. Meetings with Home Minister and Prime Ministers and with other officials were taking place periodically. When the Prime Minister went to Australia for Uranium project, one of the conditions was to release the idol. Following this, the Australian officials released the two idols and brought to India and handed over the same to the Union ministry of home affairs, which in turn, handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India. There were certain procedures which have to be followed to bring the idols here. But, before the procedures could be completed, the petitioner went to Delhi and collected the idols, saying he was the special officer to investigate the idol theft cases, he added.
Pon Manickavel in his reply stated that he was in constant touch with the Australian Federal police. They wrote a letter with regard to the two idols. He went to New Delhi and brought the idols by train, he added.
The bench posted to November 20, further hearing of the case....