Sterlite stir: HC rejects pre-arrest bail pleas of lawyers

Madurai: The Madras High Court bench today dismissed the anticipatory bail pleas of two lawyers, members of an ultra-Left outfit, booked by the police on charges of instigating protests against Sterlite’s copper unit in Tuticorin last month that turned violent.
Justice G R Swaminathan dismissed the petitions filed by Vanchinathan and Hariraghavan, who are members of “Makkal Athikaram”, apprehending arrest in the case.
The court had restrained the police from arresting the advocates and posted the petitions to today for further hearing, during the previous hearing,.

Police had registered cases against the two lawyers under various Indian Penal Code Sections including 506(2)(criminal intimidation) 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty) and the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act.

They have also been accused of instigating a section of the protesters to indulge in the violence.

In their petitions, they had contended that they were in no way connected with the violence that broke out during the protest, demanding closure of the Sterlite unit leading to police firing which left 13 people dead on May 22 and 23.

The advocates claimed that they were in the riot-hit areas of Tuticorin only to provide help to the people and advise the Anti-Sterlite People’s Federation, which had been demanding the closure of the unit citing environmental concerns.

The petitioners alleged that the police had registered the cases only to stifle freedom of speech.

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