Chennai: In an unprecedented step, the Madras High Court disposed of 212 long pending habeas corpus petitions (HCPs) relating to detentions under the stringent Goondas Act on a day single day yesterday.
Even though today was a regular holiday for the court, a special sitting of a division bench, comprising Justice V Dhanapalan and Justice G.Chokkalingam, was held for the disposal of the habeas corpus petitions filed by the detenue over a period of time seeking to set aside their detentions.
The bench allowed 157 habeas corpus petitions, closed another 55 based on the government's contention that these detention orders were revoked by the Board constituted by it to review them.
The court took up the HCPs in the wake of a PIL filed by advocate P.Pughalenthi, also the Director of Prisoners Rights Forum, praying for constitution of a special bench for the disposal of the petitions.
The petitioner referred to an agitation by the prisoners in the Puzhal Central Prison here in April last against their continued detention and submitted that even though the total detention period under the Act was 12 months, they cannot be forced to complete the entire period when they have approached the court by means of petition under article 226 of Constitution challenging the detention orders.
The petitioner further alleged that when a detenue was forced to undergo more than half of the period of total detention in prison due to non-availability of Judges or due to the pendency of his case in the court for any reason whatsoever, his right of speedy justice was grossly violated.
He further claimed non-constitution of a special bench for deciding all these HCPs would be violative of Articles 14 and 21 of Constitution.
The Goondas Act is usually invoked against habitual offenders.