Plea for contempt action against Karunanidhi dismissed

April 1st, 2009 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking contempt of court proceeding against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Union Minister T.R. Baalu for allegedly sponsoring a state-wide shutdown in October 2007 in violation of the apex court’s order.
A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi dismissed the plea of Tamil Nadu opposition party AIADMK, noting that the petitioner was not able to make out a fail-proof case against Karunanidhi for launching the contempt of court proceedings.

Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK had called for the state-wide shutdown on Oct 1, 2007, to demand expeditious implementation of the Sethusamudram shipping channel project, aimed at breaching the Adam’s Bridge and facilitating a shorter navigational route around India’s southern tip.

Also known as Ram Setu, the Adam’s Bridge is held sacred by Hindus who believe it was built by Lord Ram’s army of monkeys and bears to enable him to cross over from mainland India to Sri Lanka to fight King Ravana. The DMK had called the shutdown despite the apex court’s orders to desist from it.

The AIADMK had moved the apex court on Oct 4, 2007, seeking the contempt of court proceedings against Karunanidhi, Baalu and a host of other state ministers and officials for defying the court order against the shutdown.

The others included Tamil Nadu’s Transport Minister K.N. Nehru, Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathi, police chief P. Rajendran and Transport Secretary Debendranath Sarangi.

The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the plea. It said that on learning that the apex court had ordered to desist from sponsoring the shutdown, they had called off stir.

After adjudicating the AIADMK lawsuit for nearly a year and a half, the apex court ruled that the alleged contemnors had not violated the court order at all and merely undertook fast on Oct 1, 2007, when the business community did not think it proper to open their shops.

In its plea, the AIADMK had also drawn the court’s attention to various remarks Baalu reportedly made against the judiciary.

Citing media reports, the AIADMK had said the minister had threatened the judges with impeachment for their order against the proposed shutdown.

The AIADMK had said: “The union minister made a deliberate and calculated attempt to denude the dignity of the apex court by imputing motives to judicial process.”

It had quoted Baalu as questioning a special Sunday sitting of the court to halt the proposed shutdown. The petition quoted him as saying, “When was a sitting ever held on a Sunday? Unprecedented things are happening (in judiciary).”

“If we want to conduct a bandh (shutdown) in a democratic manner to ensure speedy implementation of the project, the Supreme Court is banning the same. Are judgements being delivered correctly in the courts? If that is so, why are the higher courts granting stay to lower courts’ rulings?” Baalu was quoted as saying.

But the bench refused to launch any contempt proceedings against him. “The petitioners were not able to produce before the court legally admissible evidence to prove the contents of the alleged speech,” it said.

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