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After having lived in jail for 19 years on charges of possessing counterfeit notes, V Sundervelu, who is from Tamil Nadu, wants to be released because various states prosecuting him have supposedly failed to expedite his trial.
The petitioner’s counsel, S Mahendran, said Sundervelu had stayed longer in jail than the prescribed punishment of 10 years for the offence for which he has been booked.
Sundervelu, now 50, has petitioned the Supreme Court on this.
Taking note of his petition, a bench headed by justice RM Lodha on Monday asked the four states concerned — Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan — to file their response.
The Centre too was directed to state its stand on the case. Contending that the right to speedy justice was a fundamental right, Sundervelu said delay in trial amounted to denial of justice.
His confinement in jail violated his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right, he said in his petition. Currently lodged in Belgaum Central Prison, Karnataka, he has been implicated in nine cases. Ironically, most of the cases are being heard by fast-track courts in Karnataka.
“When Sundervelu spoke to me last, he said that he had met his wife and children after 18 years when he was produced in a court in Chennai,” Mahendran told HT.
The first case lodged against Sundervelu — in 1992 — was in Madurai and is still at the trial stage. According to Mahendran, most of the other cases were registered subsequent to his arrest.
He alleged the prosecuting agencies were delaying things on purpose and had not produced him before the courts in other states.