The Madras High Court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to Chennai based industrialist Ranvir Shah and business owner Kiran Rao, after they submitted their passports to the Idol Wing CID. The suspects in idol theft cases have further been told to appear before the Tiruchy Idol wing department every day as a precondition to their bail.
On Thursday, the court came down heavily on both of them for failing to surrender their passports as directed on November 1. The counsels of both petitioners were forced to apologise on their behalf and assure the court that passports will be submitted. The Idol Wing had wanted to conduct custodial interrogations with them over artefacts found in their residences.
"We have submitted the passports now and they have both received anticipatory bail. It is going to be difficult for them to constantly come to the office in Trichy but at this point we just wanted to ensure we got the order," says K Thangarasu, counsel for Ranvir Shah. "We pointed out to the court that they were ready to cooperate with any investigation. Our next step is to prove their innocence," he adds.
The court, on Thursday, had stated that they were not satisfied with the claims of the petitioners that idols found in their residences were not stolen.
“You are involved in the alleged theft of 258 idols, you have not satisfied this court that the idols were not stolen. Most of them were temple idols which cannot be sold or purchased,” a division bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice P D Audikesavalu told Shah’s counsel.
Shah's counsel is however confident that they will provide enough proof to court and directs attention to the recent rebellion against Pon Manickavel in the Idol Wing.
"His own officers are saying that he is accusing people without enough evidence of guilt. This is also one such case," he says.
In September, 91 antiques were seized from Shah's house, and 122 artefacts were recovered from his Kancheepuram farmhouse. From Kiran Rao's residence, idols that were buried in the backyard were retreived in October. While Ranvir Shah's counsel maintains that he is currently in 'North India', Kiran Rao's whereabouts remain undisclosed.