The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday released Mugilan alias Shanmugham , a social activist and an anti-Sterlite protestor, on bail in a case of sexual harassment case registered him by the Karur police.
The court said there was no justification to hold him in custody in the case registered in 2017. It, however, said Mugilan should stay in Karur and report to the Crime Branch CID there every three days. Mugilan went missing after releasing a video at Madras Press Club on Feb 25 on Thoothukudi police firing in which 13 persons died, and resurfaced in Tirupati railway station on July 6.
Acting on a tipoff by the Tirupati police, the Tamil Nadu Crime Branch-CID nabbed him in Katpadi, took him into custody in a sexual harassment case pending in Karur and got him lodged in Tiruchi central prison.
Mugilan thereupon filed a petition in the Madras High Court on which the Madurai bench ordered his release on conditional bail. Justice G R Swaminathan, who passed the order said the explanation given by the activist for his disappearance” is a concocted story”.
The judge said though the allegations in the case were no doubt serious,” it is quite obvious” that complainant M R Rajeswari (32) and Mugilan were in a consensual relationship since 2017 and the complaint was filed only in March 2019.
The judge also noted that Mugilan had taken part in protests against Jallikattu ban, anti-Sterlite industry and hydrocarbon projects among others. "It appears that the petitioner, like Abhimanyu of the epic Mahabharata (who died after being trapped in Chakravyuha), was caught up in a Manmadha Vyugam and could not come out of it," the judge observed.B ut, he held that Mugilan deserves bail and allowed his petition.
Considering the apprehensions made by the State public prosecutor Natarajan and counsel for complainant Rajeswari that Mugilan might once again abscond, the judge directed him to sign before the concerned police in Karur at 10.30 am once in three days.
Magilan sought bail on the ground that this case was registered 45 days after he went missing. He alleged that he was abducted by unknown persons on Feb 25 when he was about to board a Madurai-bound train in Chennai. He said he was released by his abductors in Jharkhand and from there, he took a train to Tirupati. He said they threatened him to stop the campaign against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi.