Chennai: The Madras high court directed state government to preserve the bodies of the 12 persons including a woman and a teenaged girl killed in police firing during the anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi on May 22, until further orders.
A vacation bench comprising Justices T.Ravindran and P.Velmurugan gave the directive while directing government to file its counter affidavit by May 30 on a public interest litigation from advocates S.Jimraj Milton, D. Paarventhan and Paaventhan, which among other things, sought an interim direction to the authorities to appoint a team of private doctors to conduct the re-postmortem with video recording.
The bench said that advocates shall be permitted to provide necessary legal assistance to the affected persons in accordance with law.
The PIL also sought an inquiry by the principal district and sessions judge, Thoothukudi with regard to sniper shooting by police dressed in civil attire, and direct government to take appropriate action by prosecuting the erring officials including the district collector and superintendent of police, Thoothukudi, who ordered the police shooting and further direct government to pay compensation to the relatives of the deceased and injured persons with regard to the people's struggle against Sterlite factory and police firing.
The PIL also sought to restrain police from preventing the team of advocates to conduct legal aid/fact finding at Thoothukudi and nearby affected villages with regard to the people's struggle against Sterlite factory and police firing.
The PIL also sought an interim direction to release all arrested/illegally detained persons throughout the state on May 22.
When the PIL came up for hearing, advocate R.Sankarasubbu appearing for the petitioners submitted that Sterlite factory was causing health hazards and polluting the entire district. Therefore, people in the district were agitating for years for closing down the factory. Instead of protecting the people, the state was protecting the industry. Vedanta was ruling the country. All of a sudden, on May 22, the district administration and police in a pre-planned manner, indulged in hunting people. It was not a spontaneous action but a pre-planned action. Except for one girl, all others were leaders of the agitation. Police aimed and shot at vital parts of their bodies. These were pre-planned murders. Therefore, a sitting district judge should probe the present police firing. Re-postmortem was also required in the presence of a doctor of the choice of the relatives of the victims, he added.
In response to the allegations made by the petitioners, additional advocate general Narmada Sampath said, “Government is with the people and for the people.”All procedures were scrupulously followed. Four magistrates were monitoring the post-mortem. Government has appointed a one man commission and therefore the prayer in the petition has been fulfilled, she added....