CHENNAI, INDIA, November 30, 2018 (Outlook India): The Madras High Court Friday quashed a Tamil Nadu government order transferring the investigation of statue theft cases to the CBI (India's equivalent of the FBI), holding that it was unreasonable, mala fide and transgression of judicial orders. A special bench of justices R. Mahadevan and P. D. Audikesavulu, set up to hear petitions related to statue thefts, criticized the government for "hurriedly" taking the decision to transfer the cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by its August 1 order, when the court entrusted the job to a team appointed by it. It ordered appointment of Inspector General Pon Manickavel, who retired Friday as the Statue Wing chief, as a special officer to investigate present and future cases for one year. Reposing its faith in the IPS officer, the court said he was instrumental in recovering many stolen statues.
The court came down on the government for issuing an order Thursday upgrading the post of IG Statue Wing to additional director general of police and appointing ADGP Abhay Kumar Singh to succeed Manickavel after it reserved orders on the petitions challenging the CBI probe. "The entire process followed in the issuance of the (August 1) government order is illegal. The decision seems to have been taken by four officials, and not by the government, within a day, for reasons which would not require an investigation by the CBI or any central agency," it said. The state government had contended it was a policy decision and there were enough and sufficient grounds for transferring the investigation to the CBI as in some cases, there were international and inter-state ramifications.