The Madras High Court, on Tuesday, passed an interim order restraining Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) P Seetharaman from functioning in the said capacity, on finding that he had delayed the filing of final reports in at least 43 NDPS/ drug cases, thereby enabling the release of the accused on statutory bail.
The Madurai Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi also took note of allegations that SPP Seetharaman has not completed the 10th Standard and further that he had obtained an MA degree in an open university.
“Final reports were not filed in 43 cases and statutory bails have been obtained by the accused (who) merrily walked away from the jail,” the Court noted.
Before the Court was a PIL moved by one, B Pandiarajan, who apprised the Court that SPP Seetharaman was in the habit of receiving final reports from the Police on time but delaying the filing of the same in Court so that the accused could be released on statutory bail (i.e., bail to which an accused is entitled to if the final report or charge-sheet in a case is not filed on time).
“The facts as narrated in the affidavit are shocking”, the Court remarked, adding that, “it is alleged that for that, he used to adopt the practice for extraneous considerations deliberately.”
The Bench proceeded to recount at least two instances where the Madras High Court itself had issued warnings to the Special Public Prosecutor and where he had given undertakings to ensure that the final reports are filed within time in the future.
“However, he has not changed his attitude and he has not filed the final report on time,” the Court took note, adding that this was discernible from at least 43 cases where the SPP’s errant conduct resulted in the accused being let off on statutory bail.
“It is very shocking and surprising to note that even after appearing before this Court and giving undertaking before this Court that he will ensure that he will file the final reports within the time, especially, in NDPS cases, final reports were not filed in 43 cases and statutory bails have been obtained by the accused and merrily walked away from the jail. This would show that he is not discharging his duties as a Special Public Prosecutor. Therefore, he should be restrained from acting as Public Prosecutor. If he continues to act as a Public Prosecutor, it will not be in the interest of public, especially, when the drug addiction is affecting more and many people, especially, young people are becoming addicts to Narcotic drugs. Therefore, there shall be an order of interim direction prohibiting the third respondent from acting as Special Public Prosecutor in NDPS cases until further orders.
The Court also observed that there were allegations that Seetharaman had amassed wealth by using his position as the Special Public Prosecutor “by indulging in malpractices and corrupt acts and letting off the accused in NDPS Act.”
Therefore, the Court directed the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption department to conduct an enquiry and file a report in the matter. The matter was posted for further consideration on January 21, 2020. The Bench also remarked, during the order,
“It seems that it is only the tip of the iceberg, which has been brought before this Court. It is not known how many Law Officers are acting against the interest of the Society and State and not discharging their duties as Law Officers/Public Prosecutors.”
Whereas a mention was made on Wednesday, urging the Court to reconsider its order against the SPP, the Bench declined to entertain the plea, orally observing,
“The fact remains that several people have been let out on statutory bail and that was recorded in the earlier orders.”