Justices D Krishnakumar and K Kumaresh Babu was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legal wing secretary I S Inbadurai. In his petition, he sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy, in which over 150 people had fallen ill after consuming tainted liquor

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‘How can this happen again’: As Tamil Nadu hooch tragedy toll rises to 47, Madras HC raps DMK govt

The court, while hearing a PIL seeking a CBI probe into the tragedy, referred to similar incidents in Chengalpattu and Villupuram last year

Written by Arun Janardhanan Chennai | Updated: June 22, 2024 07:40 IST

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tamil nadu hooch tragedyFamily members of the victims of a hooch tragedy at a government hospital, in Kallakurichi. (PTI)

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The Madras High Court Friday pulled up the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Tamil Nadu government over this week’s Kallakurichi hooch tragedy, which has claimed 47 lives. In scathing comments, the court cited similar incidents in Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts last year and demanded to know why such instances were repeatedly occurring in the state.

A Division Bench of Justices D Krishnakumar and K Kumaresh Babu was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legal wing secretary I S Inbadurai. In his petition, he sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Kallakurichi hooch tragedy, in which over 150 people had fallen ill after consuming tainted liquor.

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The death toll in the incident stands at 47, while scores more are still in hospitals in the state. At least 20 are believed to be in a critical condition.

During the hearing, the court demanded to know what action was taken by the state government over the reports on the sale of spurious liquor in the area. The state government has further been ordered to file a detailed action taken report and a counter affidavit by June 26.

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Also see | Successive govts promoted drinking, says actor Suriya on Tamil Nadu hooch deaths, bats for prohibition

These directions came after the petitioner claimed that AIADMK Kallakurichi MLA M Senthilkumar had repeatedly flagged the sale of hooch in the area, even moving a motion in the state assembly on March 29, 2023.

In his comments during the hearing, Justice K Kumaresh Babu also mentioned some reports on hooch sale in Kallakurichi on YouTube.

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“If we remember correctly, there was a news report about the sale of illicit liquor in Kallakurichi even before the incident. I don’t believe in interviews with YouTubers… But a particular YouTuber made allegations specifically against persons responsible for the sale of illicit liquor in Kalvarayan Hills, Kallakurichi,” he said.

Advocate General P S Raman, who was representing the state government, told the court that investigation into the hooch deaths in Chengalpattu and Villupuram, which claimed 22 lives last year, was transferred to the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID), leading to several arrests and detentions under Tamil Nadu’s Goondas Act.

Disciplinary action was also taken against the police personnel involved, he said.

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Raman also told the court that after the Kallakurichi tragedy, the district magistrate, the additional director general of police and the superintendent of police in the Enforcement Bureau CID were transferred while the district SP was suspended.

He added that the government had appointed a one-man commission under retired high court judge B Gokuldas to investigate the Kallakurichi incident and recommend preventive measures.

To this, the court remarked: “Transferring officials is right, but who will answer for the loss of lives? Most of them are breadwinners of their families.”

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

First uploaded on: 21-06-2024 at 17:21 IST

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