The Madras High Court on Friday sought the Tamil Nadu government’s response to allegations that AIADMK MLAs were being illegally detained in a resort near Chennai and 20 of them were on a fast.

Referring to claims by the counsel for habeas corpus petitioners that the 20 MLAs were on a fast protesting their illegal detention, a division bench of justices C T Selvam and T Mathivanan said if true, it was a matter of serious concern, but added the court cannot act on mere submissions of counsel. 

“(Counsel) K Balu submits that 20 of the MLAs are refusing food and drink owing to their illegal confinement. If true, the matter is one of serious concern.”

b’Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and AIADMK Presidium Chairman Madhusudhanan during the meeting with Tamil Nadu Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday | Source: PTI’

“However, this court cannot act on the mere say of the counsel. Given the nature of the case, it would only be appropriate to afford the state an opportunity to inform its response,” the bench said in its order and adjourned the matter to February 13 for further hearing.

The allegations were made by the counsel when the HCPs seeking to trace and set at liberty MLAs T Ramachandran and Geetha came up for hearing. Petitioner M R Illavarasan submitted Ramachandran representing Kunnam constituency, was missing since attending a party meeting a few days ago.

The MLA was not accessible by phone also, the petitioner, a voter of the constituency, said. The other HCP was filed by cousin of Krishnarayapuram MLA M Geetha. When the court sought to adjourn both the HCPs by two weeks, Balu said it could become too late. He said contrary to the claim made by the Assistant Public Prosecutor before another bench on Thursday that the 130-odd AIADMK MLAs were in the MLAs’ Hostel near Chennai and were free to move around, media reports suggested they had been accommodated at a resort near Chennai. 

b’AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala during the meeting with Tamil Nadu Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday. | Source: PTI’

State Public Prosecutor Rajarathinam, representing the government, then admitted that its statement on Thursday of MLAs being in the MLAs’ Hostel in Chennai was ‘incorrect’, which was recorded by the bench. The Additional Public Prosecutor had yesterday made the submission before a bench of justices M Jaichandren and T Mathivanan following which it had declined an urgent hearing of the matter by petitioners social activist Traffic Ramaswamy and Ilavarasan. 

Ramaswamy had submitted that the 130-odd AIADMK MLAs, who elected party General Secretary V K Sasikala as the Legislature Party leader recently, were under illegal detention and sought an urgent hearing. 

b’Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam welcoming AIADMK senior leaders at his residence in Chennai on Thursday. | Source: PTI’

Citing the ‘categorical’ submission by the APP, the bench had declined urgent hearing. Rajarathinam today said no MLA was in the hostel, adding he would require time to ascertain their whereabouts. Balu said one of the MLAs, S P Shanmuganathan, had written to the State Governor and the Director General of Police stating that he had escaped from confinement. 

A complaint in this regard had been lodged with police, he claimed, adding at least 20 MLAs were on a fast protesting their confinement and their lives were under threat. He wanted the bench to direct the Kancheepuram district Superintendent of Police to inspect the resort and submit an interim report to the court.

(Feature image source: PTI)