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M.G.LOUIS GEORGE LATHES versus UNION OF INDIA, REPRESENTED

High Court of Madras

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M.G.Louis George Lathes v. Union of India, represented - W.P.19011 of 1994 [2002] RD-TN 254 (15 April 2002)



IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS



Dated: 15/04/2002

CORAM

THE HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE A.K. RAJAN

W.P.19011 of 1994

M.G.Louis George Lathes .. Petitioner vs.

1. Union of India, represented

by the Secretary to the Ministry

of Home Affairs,

New Delhi-1.

2. State of Tamil Nadu,

represented by

the Secretary to Government,

Home Department,

Fort St.George,

Madras-600009.

3. District Collector,

Coimbatore District,

Coimbatore.

4. Superintendent of Police,

Special Task Force (Tamil Nadu),

Mettur,

Salem District.

5. Revenue Divisional Officer,

Coimbatore,

Coimbatore District.

6. Deputy Inspector General

of Police,

Central Bureau of Investigation,

Sastri Bhavan,

Madras-600006. .. Respondents Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, for the issuance of writ of mandamus, as stated therein. For Petitioner : Mr. P.Rathinam

For Respondents :

:O R D E R



The writ petition is for issue of writ of mandamus, directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the complaint in Cr.No.2 12/94, on the file of the Inspector of Police, Madukkarai Police Station, Coimbatore District and submit its report; directing the C.B.E. To investigate the commissions and omissions of the concerned officials; directing the first and second respondents to pay compensation to the victims of rape and torture; and for directing the first and second respondents to pay a fair and reasonable amount as compensation to the villagers of Chinnampathy, Coimbatore District who suffered due to the violation of their rights by the members of the Special Task Force.

2. The petitioner is the Member of the People's Union for Civil Liberties. During the month of July, 1994, newspapers, Indian Express, Dinamalar, Junior Vikatan and other newspapers published a news item that two women of Chinnampathy village were raped by the members of the Special Task Force. Mr. C.K.Kuppusamy, a Member of the Parliament visited the village and he demanded judicial probe of the Chinnampathy incident. A team of advocates nominated by the Tamil Nadu State Legal Aid and Advice Board visited the said village and requested the District Collector on 21.7.1994 to arrange for ex-gratia payment as there were prima facie materials before the District Administration to substantiate the allegations of rape and torture of two women and nine youth respectively. He also met the Deputy Inspector General of Police at Coimbatore. Thereafter, on 1.8.1994, the Government of Tamil Nadu appointed a Commission of Inquiry. Tmt. R.Bhanumathi, Additional District Judge, Coimbatore was appointed as the Single Member of that Commission. With the active participation of the members of the All India Democratic Women's Association, Coimbatore, the petitioner could persuade the villagers to give aff idavits giving the details of their grievances. Before the Commission, one Tmt. Rajathy, who was working as a woman assistant under the Nutritious Noon Meal Scheme gave evidence that some of the members of the Special Task Force who were present in the Noon-Meal centre had not behaved properly. Fearing that behaviour, she ran away from the Noon Meal centre, entrusting the work to one Karuppi, another worker. She also stated that one Mylal told her in the evening that she was raped by a member of the S.T.F. She had given a detailed account of the atrocities committed by some of the members of the S.T.F., on 11th and 12th June, 1994, in the village. Mrs. Karuppi also made statement on oath before the Commission, corroborating the evidence of Mrs. Rajathy. The petitioner was also told by Mrs.Rajathy and Mrs.Karuppi that on 24.10.1994, after giving evidence before the Commission, some local landlords threatened for having giving evidence before the Commissioner. They also filed affidavits to that effect before the Commission. The Commission referred the matter to the Commissioner of Police for action. The members of S.T.F., who landed in the village on 11.6.1994 stayed in the village on that night and 37 families of Erular community were residing in that village. There is evidence to establish the rape of two women by some of the members of S.T.F., on 11.6.1994 and also for the beating of nine youths on 12.6.1994. They reported the matter to the landlords on 13.6.1994 and in turn, it was reported to the M.L.A., on that date. The M.L.A., contacted the Superintendent of Police and other officials and also visited the village and gave police protection. Though the officials were aware of such happenings, statements were not recorded from the victims. The Village Administrative Officer who deposed before the Commission had stated that the villagers made such complaint regarding rape and atrocities. The Tahsildar also received a report from the Revenue Inspector on 13.6.1994. The Village Administrative Officer by name, Natarajan collected the statements of the villagers. All these materials were placed before the District Collector who in turn ordered for an enquiry under Clause-145 of the Police Standing Orders. The victims were taken to the Government Hospital on 15.7.1994 and they also gave statements before the Medical Officer. The Medical Officer also found bite marks on the chest of Mylal which was recorded. Only when the media published that the victims were taken to the hospital; an F.I.R., was registered on 16.7.19 94. The administration deliberately withheld payment of ex-gratia to the victims. The landlords were indirectly allowed by the administration to use their power to silence the villagers. Some villagers were also threatened by the landlords when they went back after deposing before the Commission. A representation signed by 27 advocates of Madras was sent to the Governor of Tamilnadu, a copy of the same was also sent to the Chief Secretary, Government of Tamilnadu for appropriate action. The villagers are now facing a serious situation of hostility as the landlords are not willing to engage them for agricultural work. While the administration paid Rs.50,000/- as ex-gratia to each of the two members of Dalit families of Kuzhipanthandalam in Chengalpattu who died in police firing, there is no reason for the 2 nd and 3rd respondents for not giving similar payments. The enquiry started under clause 145 of the Tamilnadu Police Standing Orders was also suspended. The Executive Magistrate's enquiry in this matter suffers from very many number of omissions and there is inordinate delay in arranging for medical examination of the victims. Therefore, there is a vital need to entrust the matter to an independent agency like the C.B.I., to investigate the allegations found in the F. I.R., in Crime No.212 of 1994 on the file of Madhukkarai Police Station. The victims in the present case are entitled for compensation including interim compensation.

3. Therefore, this petition has been filed praying for issuance of writ of mandamus directing the C.B.I., to investigate the complaint; directing the C.B.I., to file a report with regard to the commission and omission of officials with respect to t ame complaint; directing the first and second respondent to pay compensation to rape victims and nine victims of torture.

4. In the counter filed by the Secretary to Government (Law and Order), Public Department, on behalf of the respondents 2 to 6, it is stated that he was on receipt of the report from the Tahsildar on 14.6.1 994 to the effect that 70 police personnels belonging to S.T.F., went to Chinnampathy village for conducting combing operation to nab the sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. On 11.6.1994 at about 11.00 a.m., the S.T.F., personnel halted and at that time, some of them misbehaved with the ladies and tortured their men. It was under investigation by local police. The Revenue Divisional Officer, Coimbatore went to the place on 16.6.1994 and enquired about the incident. He also found that there were sufficient grounds to believe that some of the Special Task Force Police Personnel said to have raped Tmt.Pappathi, Tmt. Mylal, the two Tribal women and they also tortured their men, viz., Vijayan, Pappusamy, Subramanian, Chinnan, Karuppasamy, Rajamani, Mandhan and Kumar. After completion of the preliminary enquiries, the R.D.O., Coimbatore sent a detailed report to the Collector on the alleged assault to the Collector. Sanction was accorded for a full-fledged enquiry under Section 145 of Police Standing Order. The R.D.O., conducted further enquiry and recorded statements. The S.T.F. Personnel who were on duty on that date were summoned to the R.D.Os.' office on 27.7.1994 and enquired about the alleged incident and the enquiries were reduced to writing. The Special Task Force consisted of Tamil Nadu Police, Karnataka Police and Border Security Force. The Border Security Force Personnel were not enquired since they were on duty in the interior jungles. As laid down in the rules, identification parade of S.T.F. Was also arranged. At this juncture, Commissioner of Tamil Nadu appointed the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 (Central Act LX of 1952) with a single member, viz., Tmt. R.Bhanumathi, additional District Judge, Coimbatore. Therefore, the Magisterial enquiry under Section 145 of the Police Standing Order was ordered to be stopped. On receipt of the alleged rape and assault on tribal people of Chinnampathy on 14.6.1994, the R.D.O., immediately visited the place of occurrence and recorded statement of the victims and he reported that a prima facie case has been made out. The Government has no hesitation to extend necessary financial assistance to the persons affected in such incidents. It is just and possible only if it is proved in the proper forum that the concerned ladies were subjected to rape, assault and torture. During the enquiry by the R.D.O., Tmt. Rajathi had stated that while she was preparing meals to the children, a group consisting of approximately 70 police personnels arrived at the Noon Meal Centre at 11.00 a.m., and some of them encircled her. Suspecting their movements, she left the scene and sent an old woman by name, Karuppi. When the R.D.O., wanted to conduct medical examination, the victim did not turn up. Village Administrative Officer took the victims to Coimbatore Medical Hospital and obtained medical opinion after medical examination. The District Administration was taking all possible efforts to enquire not only the safety of the alleged victims, but also the smooth conduct of the enquiry. The question of payment of ex-gratia to the alleged victims would arise only if the alleged incidents were conclusively proved before the Commission of Inquiry. They submitted the report to the government in December, 1994. The question was placed before the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. After examining the Commissioner's Report, the Government accepted the findings/recommendations of the Commission and sanctioned a sum of Rs.2 lakhs each to the two rape victims and Rs.10,000/- each to the seven injured persons as recommend by the Commission of Inquiry. Therefore, the writ petition is liable to be dismissed.

5. Another counter has been filed by the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch-II, C.I.D., Chennai-2, wherein it is stated that the Commission of Enquiry submitted its report to the Government and the same was accepted by the Government. One of the findings of the Commission was that two tribal women, viz., Mylal and Pappathy of Chinnampathy village had been raped on 11.6.1994 by the S.T.F. Personnel and that the villagers, viz., (1) Ponnusamy (2) Manthan (3) Kannan (4) Shanmugam (5) Vijayan (6) Ravi and (7) Kumar had been assaulted by the S. T.F. On 12.6.1994; another finding was that the case in Crime No.212 of 1994 should be investigated by Crime Branch C.I.D. It is further submitted that 38 witnesses were examined during the investigation by the then Crime Branch C.I.D. The statements of witnesses, including that of the victims, Mylal and Pappathi were recorded, under Section 164 Cr.P.C. The actual culprits were not fixe d by the Commission of Enquiry and no Test Identification Parade was conducted by the Commission. Therefore, the Inspector of Police, Crime Branch C.I.D., moved the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate to hold Identification Parade and the Chief Judicial Magistrate was pleased to direct the Judicial Magistrate No.VIII to hold such parades. Hence, on 20.1.97, 21.1.199 7 and 22.1.1997, Identification Parade was conducted by Judicial Magistrate No.VIII at the Central Prison, Coimbatore. All the victims numbering 14 were produced for identification parade. The Commission fixed 56 S.T.F. Personnel who stayed at Chinnampathy on 11.6.1994 and out of that, 10 S.T.F. Personnel of Tamil Nadu and twenty two S.T.F. Personnel of Karnataka alone participated. Twenty three Delhi B.S.F. Personnel of S.T.F., who took part in the co mbing operations at Chinnampathy were made to participate, as the suspected accused in the Test Identification Parade conducted by the same Magistrate on 26.9.19 97, 29.9.1997 and 30.9.1997 at the Central Prison, Coimbatore. None of the witnesses could identify anybody as the culprits involved in the atrocities on 11.6.1994 and 12.6.1994. Thus totally as many as 55 Special Task Force personnel were subjected identification parade. The Inspector of Police made an elaborate and exhaustive investigation covering all aspects including those suggested by the Commissioner of Enquiry. None of the witnesses could point out the names nor any identity of the Special Task Force Personnel who committed atrocities to them in all the said Test Identification Parade. Bothe the rape victims, viz., Mylal and Pappathi would allege that they were raped in dark night and Mylal would say that there was scant light, but Pappathi would assert that it was totally dark, when they were raped. Pappathi could not identify the person who raped her. She was not produced for identification parade. All the 11 male and the two other victims of assault also failed to identify any suspected S.T.F. Personnel during the Test Identification Parade. Excepting the abovesaid 1 4 victim witnesses, there were no other eye-witnesses to the occurrence. Thereafter, the Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch, C.I. D., issued orders in Rc.No.C5/26885/95, dated 23.8.1999 to refer the case as undetected. With respect to Crime No.212 1994, Madukkarai Police Station, under Section 376 and 323 I.P.C., was referred as " undetectable" on 8.9.1999.

6. From the counter-affidavits filed by the Secretary to Government and the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Chennai, it is seen that the rape victims were paid Rs.2 lakhs each as compensation as directed by the Commission of Enquiry and other injured witnesses were paid Rs.10,000/- each as recommended by the Commission. Therefore, the prayer in the writ petition has already been met. Hence, nothing survives in this writ petition.

7. Learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the prayer is to pay, "fair and reasonable amount as compensation". Two lakhs that was paid for rape victims is not fair compensation. Admittedly, the Commission of Enquiry was appointed and Tmt. Bhanumathi, Additional District Judge, Coimbatore was appointed as the Commission. The Commission submitted its detailed report and also suggested reliefs. The report of the Commission was accepted in toto and a special G.O., in SS.II/530-9/94, dated 3rd May, 1995 was passed. In the said G.O., a reference was made to the recommendation of the Commission which reads as follows:

" Taking into consideration of the young age of raped victims Papathi and Mylai, the Commission has recommended a compensation of Rs.2,00 ,000/- (Rupees two lakhs) each.

Taking into consideration the ignominy and humiliation of the seven men (1)Ponnusamy, (2) Manthan, (3) Kannan, (4) Shanmugam, (5) Vijayan, (6) Ravi and (7) Kumar at the hands of the Special Task Force Personnel, the Commission has recommended that a compensation of Rs.10,000 /- (Rupees ten thousand), each would be fitting in with the circumstances. " This amount has been paid to all the nine persons as early as 20.7.19 95 and 29.7.1995. This was deposited in the Post Office at Madukkarai for six years and the awardees can enjoy the interest only.

8. One of the terms of reference to the Commission of Enquiry is to fix the reasonable compensation that is to be paid to the victims. The Commission of Enquiry after taking into account the materials placed before it and other aspects, has determined the compensation of Rs.2,00,000/-to the rape victims and Rs.10,000/- to the injured. No other authority can come to a different finding in the absence of any other evidence. This Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution cannot look beyond this. This Court cannot come to the conclusion that the compensation paid was inadequate. Therefore, the prayer with respect to the compensation has become infructuous, as it has already been paid.

9. With respect to other prayer, viz., directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the case, the counsel for the petitioner argued, in the case of Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association v. State of Punjab ((1994) 1 Supreme Court Cases 616), the Supreme Court directed to make fresh investigation in the matter. Again in another unreported judgment in S.L.P.(Crl) No.3748 of 1998, dated 27 .8.1999, the C.B.I. Enquiry ordered by this Court was upheld.

10. From the counter-affidavit filed by the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Chennai, it is seen that none of the witnesses could point out the names nor even the identity of the special S.T.F., who committed atrocities to them, in all the identification parades. Both the rape victims, Mylal and Papathi had stated that they were raped in dark. Papathi could not identify who had raped her and all the male members failed to identify the S.T.F. Personnel during the identification parade. Excepting the above said 14 victims, there were no eye-witnesses to the occurrence.

11. In the circumstances, no purpose would be served by ordering C. B.I. Investigation at this point of time after so many years. There is no reason to suspect the fairness of the enquiry by C.B.I., especially when the witnesses could not identify the assailants, no point would be served by ordering fresh investigation to C.B.I. Some of the victims do not even come to any of the identification parades

12. Therefore, even if C.B.I., enquiry is ordered, it will not be of any use in the ultimate analysis. The decisions cited by the counsel for the petitioners for the proposition to show that this Court has got the power to order investigation by C.B.I. But, merely because this Court has the power to direct C.B.I. Enquiry, the Court cannot and will not pass such orders unless something useful can be done by such fresh enquiry. In the absence of any evidence to the fact that the investigation already conducted is not proper, ordering for fresh enquiry by C.B.I., exercising the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution would become futile. Therefore, the other prayer also cannot be granted by this Court.

13. In the result, the writ petition is dismissed. No costs. 15-4-2002

Index: Yes

Web Site: Yes

vs

Sd/

Assistant Registrar.

True copy

Sub-Assistant Registrar.

TO

1. Union of India, represented

by the Secretary to the Ministry

of Home Affairs,

New Delhi-1.

2. State of Tamil Nadu,

represented by

the Secretary to Government,

Home Department,

Fort St.George,

Madras-600009.

3. District Collector,

Coimbatore District,

Coimbatore.

4. Superintendent of Police,

Special Task Force (Tamil Nadu),

Mettur,

Salem District.

5. Revenue Divisional Officer,

Coimbatore,

Coimbatore District.

6. Deputy Inspector General

of Police,

Central Bureau of Investigation,

Sastri Bhavan,

Madras-600006.

A.K. RAJAN, J.

Order

in

W.P.19011 of 1994

Dt: 15/04/2002


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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