Madras HC finds motive to ‘victimise’ TN man detained for protesting land acquisition

Farmer-activist Arul Arumugam was among the seven people booked under the Goondas Act for protesting land acquisition by the government. Charges were later dropped against everyone except Arul.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court
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The Madras High Court on December 22 observed that the Tamil Nadu police detained farmer-activist Arul Arumugam under the Goondas Act, in connection with protests against land acquisition for the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT), with the motive of victimising him. The court has also asked the police to submit all documents pertaining to SIPCOT’s land acquisition in Tiruvannamalai district, including the project proposal.

A division bench of Justices SS Sundar and Sunder Mohan was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Arul’s wife Poovizhi Keerthana. The bench observed that the court was unable to find any “serious crime” done by Arul, adding that he was part of a peaceful protest that continued for more than 100 days.

Further, observing that there was a “motive” to victimise Arul, the HC directed the additional public prosecutor to submit all documents related to the project –  proposal for the acquisition, details of public hearings conducted by the district Collector, and all documents related to the project. The bench then adjourned the case to January 4.

Arul was arrested along with 19 other farmers on November 4, for protesting against the land acquisition for an eight-lane expressway project. Seven of the 20 farmers were booked under Goondas Act in November this year, which was immediately revoked following a public outrage. However, the directive issued to drop charges against six farmers excluded Arul, resulting in allegations that the government was singling out and targeting him. 

Read: Who is Arul, Techie-Turned Farmer Charged Under Goondas Act by TN Govt?

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