Idol Wing faces tough questions in peacock idol theft case

The Madras High Court on Tuesday posed some tough questions to the Idol Wing-Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for having booked a case against industrialist Venu Srinivasan, sculptor Muthiah Stapathi and others, without even conducting a preliminary inquiry regarding the alleged missing of a peacock idol from the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore.

Fundamental questions

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh raised the questions during the hearing of a petition filed by Muthiah Stapathi to quash the First Information Report registered at the instance of Rangarajan Narasimhan from Srirangam in Tiruchi.

Stating that he had read the First Information Report (FIR) completely, the judge said he first wanted answers for some fundamental questions.

Pointing that the complaint was lodged only on July 23, 2018, for an offence that was allegedly committed in 2004, and yet it carried the names of specific accused, the judge wanted to know how the police could register the FIR against those named individuals on the same day of the complaint without conducting any preliminary inquiry.

The judge referred to the dictum laid down by the Supreme Court in the famous Lalita Kumari’s case and asked why a preliminary inquiry was not conducted before registering the FIR for an offence allegedly committed about 14 years ago.

He said such an inquiry was allowed by the court with the avowed object of protecting the fundamental rights of citizens.

Damage to liberty

Stating that the contents of a belated complaint could not be taken as gospel truth at first blush itself, the judge said arresting people on the basis of unsubstantiated complaints would cause enormous damage to their personal liberty if the police did not end up gathering incriminating material against those individuals during the course of the investigation.

“If a complaint was made merely on the basis of surmises, will you still register an FIR without a preliminary inquiry? What is all this? What is your police doing?” the judge asked a government counsel.

The judge directed the law officer to answer the queries raised by him by July 9, besides filing a status report on the investigation conducted so far.

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