The Madurai bench of Madras High Court, on Tuesday, ordered a CBI probe into the police firing in Thoothukudi on May 22.
A bench consisting of Justices Basheer Ahamed and CT Selvam passed the order after hearing about 15 Public Interest Litigations (PIL) requesting a CBI probe into the events of the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite protest.
The court also ordered that the cases filed on six persons from Makkal Adhikaram under the National Security Act be quashed.
A total of 173 FIRs were registered on the protestors based on everything that happened on May 22, and several more were arrested and locked up in jail.
The court, on August 2, hence ordered the Tamil Nadu police to investigate and club all the FIRs filed against the protestors during the anti-Sterlite protest into a single FIR. The court directed that all the FIRs be converted into statements made by witnesses under section 161 (3) of the IPC.
This case has now been transferred to the CBI.
On May 22, violence broke out on the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite agitations after police opened fire on residents who were marching towards the District Collector’s office. Thirteen civilians were shot dead by the police and over 200 others were maimed for life.
Following this, on May 28, the Tamil Nadu Government directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to shut down the Sterlite Copper Smelter plant in Thoothukudi.
“Under sections, 18(1)(b) of the Water Act, 1974 in the larger public interest, the Government endorse the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and also direct the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to seal the unit and close the plant permanently,” read the order.
In June, the then Chief Justice of Madras HC, Indira Banerjee, had said that the cases related to the anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi must be probed by the CBI. She had remarked that it was only fair that the investigation be done by the central agency since the police is involved in the case.