'Is the Accused Still in Safe Haven?': Madras HC Raps Police Over Techie's Death Due to AIADMK Hoarding

'Is the Accused Still in Safe Haven?': Madras HC Raps Police Over Techie's Death Due to AIADMK Hoarding

R Subashree was run over by a water tanker after being knocked off her scooter by an illegal political hoarding of the AIADMK erected on a median in Pallikaranai in Chennai.


Poornima Murali

Chennai: Seeking progress in the case of the death of a 23-year-old techie in Chennai, the Madras High Court on Wednesday pulled up the police, asking why former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Councillor C Jeyagopal is yet to be arrested 13 days after the accident.

R Subhashree, who was returning home after taking an exam around 2 pm on September 12, had fallen off her two-wheeler after a temporary banner erected by an AIADMK leader fell on her. A water tanker that was behind her ran her over, killing her on the spot.

The life-size illegal hoarding, precariously placed on the median of the busy road, was erected by Jeyagopal for a wedding in his family. It also had pictures of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisamy, his deputy O Panneerselvam and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

In earlier judgments, the Madras High Court has banned the erection of hoardings and cut-outs and had warned parties of strict action against this trend.

The high court has directed the Commissioner of Police to monitor the investigation and file a status report by October 15 in the case. Two additional commissioners have also been asked to file reports on the progress of nabbing Jeyagopal, who has been now absconding for more than 10 days.

The case was heard after Traffic Ramaswamy filed a petition against illegal flex boards in the city. The DMK counsel appeared in the hearing and requested the court to transfer the case to CB-CID, saying that the erring officials are yet to be booked.

While hearing the case, the judge asked if the prime accused is still in safe haven. The court asked when the accused will be arrested as it has been more than 13 days have passed after the accident.

The court also observed that the Dravida Munnentra Kazhagam (DMK), the opposition party in the state, has alone filed an affidavit against flex boards. The judges questioned why no other party has done it.

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan earlier blamed "government apathy" and "half-baked politicians" for Subhashree's death. "Many Subhashrees and Raghus have been killed due to government apathy," he said in a video.

While the police filed an FIR against the driver of the water-tanker lorry, no one else was named for any role in the accident. The tanker driver and the owner of shop that made the flex boards were arrested after Subhashree's death.

A case was only registered against Jeyagopal after a complaint was filed by assistant engineer of the Chennai corporation under Section 4 of The Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959, for installing the hoarding without permission. The maximum punishment under this is one year in jail.

While there are two FIRs against Jeyagopal's name, he is still on the run, said police. Jeyagopal admitted himself to a private hospital after reportedly complaining of chest pain, but officers said they were unable to find him there.

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