Give free hand

Ever since the lid was blown off the idol smuggling racket, the idol wing head, Inspector General of Police Pon Manickavel has been in the news for good and bad reasons. On Monday, in a reprieve to the top official probing cases of thefts of antique idols from temples, the Madras High Court directed the Tamilnadu government not to take any adverse action against him or his team without its permission. A special bench of justices R Mahadevan and P D Audikesavalu granted the relief to Manickavel, who apprehended some adverse action from the authorities on the eve of his retirement. Manickavel is due to retire 30 November.

In Manickavel’s own words, “They were conducting some probe behind my back and trying to fix me in some sort of allegation.” Considering his apprehension, the bench directed the government lawyers present to inform the authorities that no action should be taken in connection with the issue without placing the relevant records before the court. No officer was empowered to pass any order without the permission of the court, the bench said. This is not the first time the HC has come to the rescue of Manickavel. In the past, the court had quashed the transfer order of Manickavel from the idol wing and directed him to constitute a team and continue his probe.

If the allegations made by Manickavel are true, they should be treated with all seriousness and stern action should be taken against those trying to fix him. For, Manickavel is said to be instrumental in unearthing a major scam worth hundreds of crores of rupees. If he is not allowed to do his duty and is subjected to mental torture by vested interests, it is very unfair. Idols are our treasures and they are our ancestors’ gifts to us. Not just the idols, but the ones who are trying to safeguard them, too, should be protected.

NT Bureau