HC condones delay in filing plea in Dinakaran attack case



Madurai: The Madras High Court has allowed a CBI petition seeking to condone the delay of 118 days in filing an appeal against a lower court judgement acquitting 17 people, including a DSP, in the 2007 Dinakaran newspaper office attack case.

A division bench of justices S Rajeswaran and GM Akbar Ali posted the matter for hearing on March 22, accepting the CBI plea that the delay was caused owing to the time taken in obtaining approval from the Centre.

Three employees of the daily lost their lives in the attack on the office on May 9, 2007 following the publication of a survey which gave an edge to Deputy Chief Minister and Karunanidhi's son M K Stalin over his brother Union Minister Alagiri to succeed their father.

The Tamil newspaper is owned by the Maran brothers - Kalanidhi and Union Minister Dayanidhi, grand nephews of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

Seventeen persons were charged under various IPC Sections.

Deputy Superintendent of Police V Rajaram, who was on duty at the time of occurrence, was accused of failing to perform his duty. Principal District and Sessions Judge N Retnaraj acquitted all the accused on December 9, 2009 on the ground that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond all reasonable doubts.

The CBI said, "The trial court ought to have considered the evidentiary value of Prosecution Witness 1 (the newspaper's employee whose complaint led to registration of the First Information Report)."

"Since he had turned hostile, his deposition cannot be discarded in entirety. The trial court should have elicited the truth from the portion of his evidence."

The CBI felt that as the video footage of the incident had been telecast on various channels and the photographs had been published in dailies, there was no need to conduct an identification parade in the present case.

Identification parade, if conducted in this backdrop, would have been a farce, the CBI affidavit said.

The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) had found the photographs and video footage to be genuine on the basis of their resolution.

The CBI said the trial court had erred in discarding the opinion given by CFSL, and holding that the CFSL report was not a scientific one as no scientific machinery was applied to decide whether there was tampering or not.

The trial court had failed to adopt a proactive approach in finding out the truth, the investigating agency said.

The publication of the survey had soured relations between the families of Karunanidhi and the Marans but they later patched up.

PTI