The order of the Madurai bench of Madras High Court Monday, sentencing a retired police official to four-year jail term in the attack on the office of Tamil news daily Dinakaran that left three people dead, is no doubt a warning bell to officials who collude with politicians and carry out unlawful activities. Five days after it awarded life sentence to nine in the 2007 case, the HC Monday sentenced Rajaram to four years imprisonment.
A division bench comprising Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi sentenced the former top police officer to one-year rigorous imprisonment under 217 (Public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment) of the Indian Penal Code and four years imprisonment under section 221 (1) (Punishment for intentional omission to apprehend on the part of public servant bound to apprehend) of IPC. The sentences will run concurrently, they said. The high court verdict came on an appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the lower court acquitted all the accused.
Last week, the High Court also ordered the State government to pay Rs 5,00,000 compensation to the families of Gopinath, Vinod and Muthuramalingan — the three Dinakaran staff who were killed in the attack. Among those sentenced to life is V P Pandi, also known as ‘Attack’ Pandi, a supporter of former Union Minister M K Alagiri, who was expelled from the DMK some years back. There is an unholy nexus between officials and politicians, and strong orders like this will go a long way in putting an end to this atrocity.