Book: An EyeTo Indian Policing Challenge & Response — V.Vaikunth, IPS (Former Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu)
Chapter 24: The episode concerning Dr. Swami
Always in accordance with the due Process of Law
During this period, there was a serious attempt made to harass and arrest Dr.Subramanian Swamy. An earlier attempt had failed. On 21 May, 1995, when Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister of India, visited Sirperumbudur, Jayalalitha was still in Ooty. I received a message saying that Jayalalitha was returning to Madras from Ooty and that I should attend a meeting in her house at 4.00 p.m that day. After seeing Narasimha Rao off from Sriperumbudur on his way to Arakonam enroute to Delhi, I rushed back to Madras and attended her meeting. Besides me, there was the advocate general, the public prosecutor and the chief secretary. Alexander, IG Intelligence, was not allowed entry into the meeting hall. I shall revert to it later. Jayalalitha started shouting at the advocate general and public prosecutor when they raised certain points of law when Dr.Subramanian Swami is going to any extent to harass me trying to implicate me in cases of my alleged corrupt activities. You are scared of Dr.Swami.”.
The point at issue was the Ravi, a LTTE cadre and the TADA detenu had failed an affidavit before a court in Madras alleging that Dr.Subramanian Swamy had harboured Ravi in his house in Delhi. Ravi had also filed, along with the affidavit a photograph, which showed that Dr.Swami had taken the photograph with Ravi allegedly during the latter’s stay in Dr.Swami’s house at Delhi. This then seemed to prove the allegation. Jayalalitha wanted the police to arrest Subramanian Swami merely on this account. Legal experts were of the opinion that a mere affidavit filed before a court could not be taken as the First Information Report (FIR) and we have to get the court’s permission to investigate. They quoted the Supreme Court’s rulings in support of their contention. But, when Jayalalaitha started shouting, I vividly remember that they came to the edge of their seats and did not know what to say in their nervousness. As for the Chief Secretary Haribhaskar, when he stood like a school boy trying to explain things, he too was shouted down. He then agreed to whatever Jayalalitha said. That was the prevailing state of affairs.
I kept quiet and kept observing the trend of what was going on when suddenly Jayalalitha turned towards me and asked me loudly why I was keeping silent. I told her politely that I was waiting for my turn to come. I then told her very calmly that we were not scared of Subramanian Swami at all. But we have to proceed according to correct legal principles and in accordance with the due process of law. Otherwise, it would recoil on us and the government would get a bad name. I had to tell her also that, if during investigation it was found that Subramanian Swami was legally liable, then we could go ahead. Until then, it was just not possible for us to arrest him merely on an affidavit of a detenu. Ultimately, I had to give a shock treatment to Jayalalitha by saying that already there were allegations that she was soft of the LTTE and so why should she now give credence to these allegations by acting on a mere petition by a LTTE detenu. Then, in sheer exasperation, Jayalalitha told me, “Ok, you go ahead according to your plans” and the meeting concluded abruptly.
When I came back to the office, DIG Ramanujam who was in charge of the special cell of the police dealing with terrorist activities and Selvarathinam, the Superintendent of Police of the same cell came to me and said that they would like to proceed on medical leave. They said so because they were apprehensive that they would become a party to an illegal act in arresting Swami without any legal basis. I told them not to get upset about Jayalalitha’s outburst. I would stand by them. I said, “Either we sink or sail together”. I assured them that I would never make them a party to any illegal act. Their apprehensions were well-founded, because in the earlier incident when the attempts of police officers to arrest Subramanian Swami on false charges failed during my predecessor’s time, efforts were made to find scapegoats. I assured them that I would take full responsibility. They were reassured and started the investigation. The investigation was very thorough towards establishing the truth or otherwise of the allegations raised by Ravi in his affidavit. It was found that Dr.Subramanian Swami around that particular time was not in Delhi, but in Bombay and there was clear evidence to establish this. Evidence was also available that Ravi never went to Delhi. Them, the most important evidence of the forensic experts was that the so-called photograph was only a trick photography and was not true at all. Though Jayalalitha kept asking me about the case, I assured her that everything was going on smoothly and we shoult not be hustled into any wrong conclusion.
It was during the investigation on this case that there was a suggestion made by Jayalalitha to summon Chandralekha to the police for interrogration. Chandralekha had by then quit IAS and joined Subramanian Swami as the President of the Tamil Nadu unit of the Janatha Party. Chief Secretary Haribhaskar was playing second fiddle to Jayalalitha as usual. I had to vehemently protest saying that it is against the law, rules and orders in force, all of which say that, no woman either as accused or witness–as Chandralekha in this case was, (a witness) should be summoned to the police station. Realising that I felt very strongly about this, Jayalalitha left it at that. When we came out, I still remember, I firmly held Haribhaskar’s hand and said, “Hari, don’t you have any respect for human values at all? Besides the fact that summoning a woman witness to the police station in against the law, rules and orders, after all till the other day Chandralekha was your colleague in the IAS. Just because she has fallen from the favour of Jayalalitha, do you want to be a party to the suggestion that Chandralekha be summoned to the police station? Haribhaskar could not answer this. Our investigating officers ultimately examined Chandralekha in her house.
A Diabolical Plan Uncovered
I prepared a detailed note substantiating by evidence that the contents in the affidavit filed by Ravi were all false. But, what really clinched the issue was the very valuable evidence we got to the effect that one particular leader of one of the powerful groups wanted to settle scores with Dr.Swami. Dr.Swami had lambasted that leader bringing in allegations against him. This particular leader had wanted to use his access to Jayalalitha and thereby the government machinery to have Swami arrested. What I heard in this connection was shocking. His plan was to get Swami arrested by hook or crook, get him remanded to the Central Prison, Chennai and have him beaten up thoroughly. When Dr.Swami would then by removed to the Government General Hospital for treatment of injuries after the murderous assault, the doctors would declare him dead. For executing this diabolical plan again we reliably learnt that the leader in question wanted to seek Jayalalitha’s intervention.
When I heard about this, I said to myself that if this were to be true, I shall not be a party to it. This was a very reliable information and I passed it on to Jayalalitha. This made her sit back and express shock and surprise that she and the government machinery were sought to be misused by some groups to settle scores with Dr.Swami. After I presented my note to Jayalalitha, she summoned a senior minister and said, “So I accept the D.G’s. report and let us leave the matter at that”. I saluted her and came back to the office. It is amusing now for me to note how the alchemy of political alliance has changed with Subramanian Swami joining hands with Jayalalitha only to part company with her later.
I summoned DIG Ramanujam and S.P.Selvarathinam and told them all that happened. On this, I still remember their beaming with a smile. I have always found Ramanujam a balanced and level-headed officers who is very professional in his approach. He is an asset to the State Intelligence in view of the expertise he had developed over years of experience in this Intelligence branch as a Superintendent of Police and later as the DIG.
I had earlier mentioned that Alexander as the IG, Intelligence, was not allowed entry into the hall where Jayalalitha held a meeting to discuss Dr.Swamy’s issue. It was not as though that Alexander was not allowed because he had reportedly wanted to convey that Ravi’s affidavit was motivated. Not just that. I was told by Jayalalitha herself at that time that she had a number of instances in her possession to convince her as to how Alexander–whom Jayalalitha trusted–had betrayed her trust.
Alexander is brilliant officer and has an effective way of presenting facts. It was delight to hear him present the facts of a case/situation. That way, I liked him very much. But unfortunately, he was perceived to be high and mighty towards district officials and even senior officers of other wings. There was an impression that because Alexander was reportedly close to Jayalalitha, he was brusque towards senior officers. It is all these which made Jayalalitha shift him out of the Intelligence Wing. When she issued orders shifting him, Jayalalitha told me, “ Mr.Vaikunth, I think by shifting Alexander, I have created yet another enemy against me.”
With me, however, Alexander was very polite and courteous even when I was not occupying positions of importance probably because he knew that it is I who was responsible for his initial entry into the Special Branch CID Wing way back in 1976. I would always cherish my association with him I am sure that he is slated to scale greater heights and occupy positions of importance in the state and the country, what with his brilliance and competence.
While on this, I recall an interesting episode that happened. In the Subramanian swami case, Dr.P.Chandrasekar, a former director of the Tamil Nadu Forensic Science Laboratory, had given a private interview to a weekly magazine saying that the photograph allegedly taken by Ravi, a TADA detenu, with Dr.Swami was bogus. Irked by this, some miscreants reportedly of the AIADMK waylaid him near his house and assaulted him. He naturally came running to me for protection. I asked Rajasekaran Nair, the Commissioner of Police to give him protection, keeping the Secretary to the Chief Minister and Haribhaskar informed. I also sent a written note to Jayalalitha who way away in Payyanur Bungalow. When she came back, she needlessly got worked up. Haribhaskar as usual feigned ignorance and I had to meet her separately and tell her that this was a very normal thing based on my own professional perception and the need for protecting Dr.Chandrashekar, who was after all an important witness in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. She asked me why Haribhaskar had feigned ignorance. Then, I had to tell her that I would not trust Chief Secretary Haribhaskar any longer as he was in the habit of backing out when she was particularly peeved over any matter. That was Haribhaskar.
Courtesy: janataparty.org (defunct)