Madras High Court on Monday stayed all further proceedings in a special court related to a Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) case filed against MDMK leader Vaiko and six others until further orders.
A division bench comprising Justice S Rajeswaran and Justice P N Prakash gave the interim order on a batch of appeals by Vaiko and others challenging a September 2004 order of the special court at suburban Poonamalee dismissing the Public Prosecutor’s application seeking withdrawal of the case.
The Q Branch CID police, Madurai, had registered the POTA case in 2002 against Vaiko and others on the basis of a speech he made at a public meeting in favour of banned LTTE.
The Special Court in 2003 took cognisance of the offence under POTA Act and framed charges and proceeded with trial.
In the meantime, allowing an application by Vaiko and others, a Review Committee, set up by the Central Government, held prosecution under POTA was not necessary and issued a direction to the Tamil Nadu Government to withdraw the case.
Accordingly, the Public Prosecutor on August 8, 2004, filed an application under Section 321 of CrPC to consider withdrawal of the prosecution, but this was rejected by the special court.
Aggrieved, Vaiko and others moved the Supreme Court which on October 8, 2004, stayed the trial court proceedings.
When their appeal came up for hearing before apex court after nine years on March 5 this year, the court observed that there was an appeal provision before High Court under Sec 34 of POTA and permitted them to withdraw their plea before the apex court.
Hence, they filed the present appeal before the High Court contending that the impugned order of the Special Court in rejecting the withdrawal application made by the Public Prosecutor was erroneous and therefore liable to be set aside.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, Additional Public Prosecutor Maharajan sought time to file counter, which was objected to by the counsel for Vaiko.
The counsel further added that already Vaiko and other appellants enjoyed the benefit of stay on the proceedings granted by the Supreme Court for more than nine years, and since the apex court has given a direction to approach the High Court they have filed the present appeal. Hence, he pressed for a stay on the proceedings.
Concurring with the submissions, the bench stayed the proceedings before the special court until further orders.