Plea seeking release of Thirumurugan Gandhi dismissed

Chennai: The Madras High Court dismissed a habeas corpus petition seeking the release of pro-Tamil activist Thirumurugan Gandhi, noting that it was not maintainable as he had been remanded in judicial custody by a competent court after being arrested recently.

A division bench comprising Justice C T Selvam and Justice Nirmalkumar directed Gandhi to approach the appropriate court for regular bail.

The habeas corpus petition, usually filed to set at liberty a person in illegal detention, was moved by the father of Gandhi, who is the coordinator of the May 17 Movement, a rights group.

The petitioner alleged that his son had been kept under illegal detention by the police even after refusal of a magistrate to remand him in police custody after his arrest on 9 August at Bengaluru airport.

He sought a direction to the police to produce his son in the court and set him at liberty. In its order, the bench noted that the activist had been arrested by police again on 11 August in connection with a case registered in September last year and produced before a metropolitan magistrate’s court in the city that remanded him in judicial custody.

The case was related to a rally taken out by Gandhi and his supporters in the city on 20 September last year.

“Writ of habeas corpus is not to be entertained when a person is committed to judicial or police custody by the competent court by an order which prima facie does not appear to have been passed without jurisdiction or in an absolutely mechanical manner or wholly illegal,” the bench said.

The order noted that Gandhi was arrested on 9 August at Bengaluru airport based on a lookout circular issued by the Chennai police over a Facebook post about his speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The speech in which he had raised the issue of police firing during the protest against Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin that left 13 people dead was translated and posted on Facebook with an intention to cause riot and fear among the public, it was stated.