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Thursday, Nov 13, 2003
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After Jayalalithaa's statement The Hindu withdraws request for CISF cover
Chennai , Nov. 12
THE Hindu's Editor-in-Chief, Mr N. Ram, has welcomed the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J. Jayalalithaa's statement to fully comply with the Supreme Court's order staying the arrest of The Hindu Editor and four others for alleged breach of privilege of the Assembly. Consequently, Mr Ram said the newspaper had decided to withdraw its request for Central protection.
On Tuesday, The Hindu had written to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, seeking Central protection in the light of continued intimidation by police, a request that was granted by the Centre.
Reacting to this, Ms Jayalalithaa late on Tuesday night questioned the Centre's decision to provide protection when the State was fully complying with the apex court's order.
Mr Ram said that the Chief Minister's statement was "unprecedented."
"This is perhaps the first time that a Chief Minister of a State, where the legislature has backed a breach of privilege, has publicly acknowledged the supremacy of the Constitution and the Supreme Court as the final interpreter and adjudicator of the legislative privileges when they come into conflict with constitutional provisions, especially fundamental rights.''
He said, "It was an indication of a new position taken by the Government. The concept of `sky high powers of the Speaker' has taken a beating. A concept that has to go.''
He clarified that the apprehensions on security were not new, as maintained by Ms Jayalalithaa, but were expressed in the newspaper's petition to the Supreme Court. The security sought for was to be "minimum credible security'' based on a "professional assessment'', for a limited time, he told a press conference on Wednesday after Mr V. Jayanth, The Hindu's Chief of Bureau, one of the five sentenced by the Assembly, returned to office.
Mr Jayanth expressed "profound gratitude'' for the overwhelming support from journalists throughout the country. The authorities had seen the response, and "I hope better sense prevails'', he said.
He had considered going to the police in the last few days, but was advised against it. He was fully convinced that "justice was on our side''. "At no time did I think I was a fugitive from justice''.
To a question, Mr Ram said, "I think the State Government's rights are important. But when fundamental rights are threatened in the name of federalism no one can bow to unconstitutional and undemocratic action of the police force. Considering that one of the persons the police were after was in his 70s, and had undergone two angioplasties, we under-reacted to the situation. No one can expect a 125-year-old paper to take such treatment passively,'' he said.
He said a copy of the report that the paper planned to send to the Union Home Ministry would be given to the State Government to acquaint the Chief Minister of the developments.
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