Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday told the Madras High Court that it could not withdraw criminal cases against anti-Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant agitators as the situation in that town was not yet conducive for doing so.
A submission to this effect was made by Advocate General AL Somayaji before the first bench, comprising acting Chief Justice RK Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, hearing three PILs seeking fulfilment of 15 conditions laid down by the Supreme Court prior to operationalisation of the KNPP and also withdrawal of cases against the agitators.
Somayaji said the stage is not ripe for withdrawal of criminal cases already filed.
He noted they faced cases for snatching a pistol, going on a fast unto death and fishing boycott. Their stir continued even after the apex court ruling, giving the go-ahead to the plant and they were targeting unit-II as well, he contended.
Pointing out that the tenor of the apex court`s condition no. 14 that efforts should be made to withdraw cases against agitators was different from others like AERB and NPCIL clearances for operationalisation of the plant, he said there was no positive direction to the government to drop the cases.
The agitators too should reciprocate the court ruling by agreeing to remain peaceful and allow the plant to operate, the AG said, adding it could not be a one-sided operation.
"The moment the situation becomes conducive, government will consider withdrawing the cases," Somayaji said.
P Wilson, Additional Solicitor-General of India, said central and state agencies like Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Environment Ministry had filed separate reports since July 04.
Denying any violation of the 15-point guidelines, Wilson said that as directed the court, these reports had been filed before the registry of the apex court.
The ASG further said there was a serious threat to the nuclear facility from agitators and that officials were being stopped from discharging their duties. "There was even a threat to blow up the unit," he said.
Acting Chief Justice Agrawal wondered how the court could hear the case as various authorities had already filed reports before the Supreme Court, as mandated by it.
"They have filed the reports as directed by the apex court. We cannot go into its validity. You challenge the report and take your objection to the Supreme Court," he said.
Earlier, M Radhakrishnan, counsel for petitioner G Sundararajan, said two key guidelines - relating to review of safety and inclusion of Kanyakumari district in the disaster management scheme - had not been complied with by authorities.
Decrying the suggestion that the petitioner approach the apex court, he said "can the state of 10 lakh people be left at the mercy of the government?"