Dec 25 2000
0040 hrs IST
SC stops cloud of blackmail from taking root in India
THE YEAR began in the shadow of a blackmail drama enacted by the hijackers of an Indian Airlines plane and might have ended with another scripted by notorious forest brigand Veerappan, but for the Supreme Court which firmly told Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments that succumbing to his demands would give rise to many more kidnappings in future.
The court, despite the justification given by the two state governments for the release of the brigand's associates, quashed the dropping of Tada charges as ordered by special courts in Mysore and Chennai and put a spanner in the gameplan of the sandalwood smuggler, who was holding Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar as hostage.
Within a few days of the Supreme Court order, which severely criticised the two governments for their laxity in the last ten years to nab Veerappan, Rajkumar was freed marking the victory of the rule of law.
This could not have come at a better time than when the Supreme Court was celebrating its golden jubilee.
The year also witnessed a controversy over the unceremonious exit of Ram Jethmalani from the Union Cabinet for his vituperous remarks against the observations of the Chief Justice of India A S Anand during the hearing of a case pertaining to the report of the Srikrishna Commission on Mumbai riots.
The court this year also solved two major contentious issues - Almatti and Narmada dams - the first one to everybody's statisfaction while in the other the petitioners Narmada Bachao Andolan went fuming.
It also took the government to task for not caring for the environment and wildlife. Its orders touched everybody - from the men in uniform to religious leaders and the lifeline of the capital - the Yamuna river.
The controversy over the "real age" of Justice Anand fell flat as documentary evidence clearly showed that it was an imagination of a fertile mind and a Chennai-based lawyer faced the consequence for using the controversy to threaten the CJI.
The court, while sentencing the advocate for six months finding him guilty of contempt of court, held that sending such threatening telegrams to the head of the judiciary interfered with the administration of justice and undermined the majesty of the Supreme Court.
The dam issues took a lot of time of the court which had to hear elaborate arguments from a host of parties.
Regarding the Almatti dam over river Krishna, the court allowed Karnataka to raise its height from 509 meters to 519.6 meters, but ordered that Andhra Pradesh could use the surplus water till a new tribunal was constituted to amicably settle the disputes among the states, including Maharashtra. - PTI