The Madras High Court's Madurai Bench on Friday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to state the reasons, by June 6, for the May 22 police firing in Thoothukudi which left 13 persons dead.
The court's order came as it heard a petition demanding registration of murder cases against senior police and other government officials for the firing and also setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
On May 22, police fired at people protesting against the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi killing 13 and injuring over 60 persons.
The government was asked to submit its report by June 6.
Earlier Chief Minister K. Palaniswami told the media that people in Thoothukudi had been protesting peacefully for long against the company, alleging that it was causing health hazards and depleting the water table, but this time, the opposition and "anti-social elements" had turned the movement violent.
"It is because of this instigation that so many people have died. And we are really saddened by the deaths," he said.
According to an FIR lodged by Thoothukudi police, a Deputy Tehsildar has claimed that he had ordered police firing on May 22 against the anti-Sterlite protestors.
The FIR filed by the police on May 22 says that Sekar, Deputy Tehsildar in Thoothukudi, admitted that it was he who had ordered the police firing at the protesters, after all the other steps to preserve law and order failed.
As per the FIR, Sekar said he had at first warned the protesters that force would be used and when his request was defied, he ordered a baton charge. When this proved inadequate and the crowd kept surging forward menacingly and attacked the police personnel, he had ordered the firing of tear gas shells after due warning.
The official said when tear gas shells failed to disperse the violent mob, which was destroying public property and attacking police personnel near the Collectorate, he had ordered firing as the last resort. Twelve persons were killed in police firing on May 22 and later one more person died in fresh firing.