In a shot to the arm of the Tamil Nadu Idol Wing, IG Pon Manickavel was appointed as Special Officer by the Madras High Court on Friday, on the day of his retirement. He will continue heading the team of Idol Wing officers. In addition to this, a special division bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice P D Audikeasvlu struck down the state government's decision to transfer idol cases to the CBI, terming the intentions behind this decision as malafide.
Manickavel was posted to the Idol Wing in 2012 and it was largely considered a punishment posting. But under his leadership, the Idol Wing recovered 1,129 stolen idols worth hundreds of crores of rupees. During the period that he headed the wing, the staff strength reduced from 29 to seven but the team was constantly in the news following the arrest of idol smuggler Subhash Kapoor. In view of his superannuation, the Tamil Nadu Government appointed Abhay Kumar Singh, IPS as his successor.
Advocate Elephant Gajendran who has been closely involved in idol smuggling cases and was present at court, told the media, "From the moment of his retirement he will continue as a special officer. He will be reporting all matters on the investigation to the court directly. He does not have to submit anything to the government."
This is not the first time that the court has expressed its confidence in Pon Manickavel and come to his rescue. In July, after the government transferred the IG to the Railways, the court ordered that he should be made head of a special team for completion of trial of all pending idol theft cases across the court.
As far as the government's decision to shift idol wing cases to the CBI is concerned, the High Court termed the state's intentions malafide. Justice Mahadevan pointed out that none of the reasons offered by the government for this decision was acceptable. The court further challenged the government's claim that this was a policy decision.
"Several government authorities and millionaires are involved in idol wing cases. The state government was trying to protect them all, that is why they shifted the case to the CBI," alleges advocate Rajendran. "The court has now directed the CBI to also aid Pon Manickavel in investigations," he adds.
The IG, meanwhile, welcomed the decision and pointed out that the team had their work cut out for them and that he will continue his investigations.