Lawyer was arrested by ‘Q’ Branch wing of Tamil Nadu police; rights activists express concern over delay in hearing of bail plea
The arrest of advocate A. Murugan under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in January 2017 and his prolonged detention since then have been a travesty of justice, a group of human rights activists belonging to different organisations, who spoke to the media here on Saturday, alleged.
The activists also raised concern over inordinate delay in disposing of the advocate’s bail petitions.
Mr. Murugan, who was appearing for a few persons accused to be Maoists, was arrested by the ‘Q’ Branch wing of Tamil Nadu police in Madurai for allegedly being a conduit for Maoists and assisting them.
R. Murali of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), however, alleged that he was arrested since the ‘Q’ Branch did not want him to appear for the Maoists.
“He was threatened by the police and since he did not listen, he was arrested. This is a gross violation of his freedom to practice as an advocate. This was the first time UAPA has been slapped against an advocate in Tamil Nadu,” he said.
Advocate B.B. Mohan, who has also appeared for persons accused as Maoists, said that it had already been established in judgements of the Supreme Court and High Courts that an advocate cannot be associated with the ideologies of the clients he represents.
Stating that the police have thus far failed to provide any incriminating evidence against Mr. Murugan, he said that the police instead slapped another UAPA case against him in August 2017, allegedly in a bid to prevent him from coming out on bail.
Delay in bail
Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director, People’s Watch, alleged that the inordinate delay by Madras High Court in dealing with Mr. Murugan’s bail petition was a cause of concern.
He said that first a revision petition was filed at Madurai Bench challenging Mr. Murugan’s remand order, issued on his arrest, by a subordinate court in Karur.
“After hearing, orders were reserved on May 11, 2017 and was dismissed after a prolonged delay only in December 2017,” he said.
Similarly, he said that a bail petition filed meanwhile was also reserved for final orders in July 2017. “When we were expecting the orders, the petition was reopened for hearing in December 2017.” he alleged, adding that another petition filed in Principal Seat of Madras High Court was also pending since October, 2017.
r. Tiphagne said that his organisation would be approaching United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers on the issue.
M. Alagudevi, Mr. Murugan’s wife, has also petitioned the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.