17 July 2023 8:39 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday extended the interim bail of Gnana Prakash, an associate of the slain forest brigand Veerappan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 in the Palar bomb blast case. The sexagenarian life convict – diagnosed with advanced stage cancer – was released last year after spending almost 30...
The Supreme Court on Monday extended the interim bail of Gnana Prakash, an associate of the slain forest brigand Veerappan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 in the Palar bomb blast case. The sexagenarian life convict – diagnosed with advanced stage cancer – was released last year after spending almost 30 years under incarceration, pursuant to the top court’s direction in a writ petition filed by his wife, Selva Mary.
The counsel for the State of Karnataka informed the division bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi, which was hearing the writ petition, that despite prisoners convicted under the TADA being excluded from being considered under the remission policy, a letter had been written to the union home ministry recommending Gnana Prakash’s release.
“Let's wait for the outcome. Meanwhile, place the guidelines on record. We have said interim order to continue,” Justice Khanna said, while denying a request by the counsel for the convict to pass the matter over. “The man is already out on bail. If he were behind [bars], we would have agreed to grant a pass-over.”
Finally, the bench pronounced:
“In view of the request made by the counsel for the State of Karnataka, re-list after four weeks. State of Karnataka will place on record the policy as directed in the last order. It is also stated by the counsel appearing for the state that they have recommended the release of the petitioner and the request is pending before the Ministry of Home Affairs. Interim order to continue.”
On April 9, 1993, the Palar bomb blast orchestrated by feared Indian dacoit Veerappan and his gang claimed the lives of 22 people, including five Tamil Nadu Special Task Force personnel and two forest guards. This incident took place near the Palar bridge between Male Mahadeshwara hills and Mettur in Tamil Nadu and contributed the single highest number of casualties recorded during the two decades of anti-Veerappan operations, leading to over hundred people being booked under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987. Of them, four accused – Veerappan’s elder brother Gnana Prakash, Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran – were awarded death penalties in 2004 in connection with the landmine blast at Palar, although, their sentences were commuted to that of life imprisonment by a constitution bench of the Supreme Court in 2014.
Simon and Bilavendran have died. Meesekaara Madaiah is still lodged at the Mysuru Central Prison, while Gnana Prakash was released from the same jail last year after his wife, Selva Mary, moved the Supreme Court highlighting his worsening health. A bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice in her plea in October, and in November, directed that Gnana Prakash be released on interim bail by pronouncing:
“The petitioner’s husband namely, Gnana Prakash will be released on interim bail, which will continue till the next date of hearing, on terms and conditions to be fixed by the trial court.”
This interim order was again extended by the apex court earlier this year, in February.
Selva Mary v. Union of India & Anr. | Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 391 of 2022
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