Chennai, Nov 2 (PTI) The Madras High Court Friday transferred to the Crime Branch-CID the cases involving those taken into preventive custody for protesting against the Salem-Chennai green corridor highway project.

A division bench, comprising Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan, passed interim orders on a petition from advocate Rathnam seeking direction for fair and just compensation for the victims of “violations” committed by police besides a probe into the alleged violation of rights of farmers against the project.

The bench said, “In the case on hand, emotions are high among the people. There is apprehension of forceful dispossession of property among land owners.” “Therefore, a detailed and unbiased probe is required,” the court said, adding that an inquiry by police would not be “efficacious and effective since the police of two districts are involved.” “We deem it appropriate that a complete probe is to be conducted by the CB-CID for which we direct the DGP to nominate a young and dynamic officer from the CB-CID to investigate into the matter and file a comprehensive report to this court,” it said.

The court observed that it has been hearing a batch of pleas against the eight-lane project continuously since August 21.

“Police cannot deny the fact that media widely reported about the protests by landowners and how they were manhandled by police and revenue officials,” the bench said.

The bench in its order said, “Scope of inquiry should revolve upon as to the reasons of such preventive arrest; whether the police were acting at the behest or direction of different person who are not their superior officers in the hierarchy, and what precipitated such action and all matters acted and incidental thereto.” The court would monitor the progress of investigation, the bench said, and posted the matter for further hearing to November 30.

According to the petitioner, many landowners opposed the project and during a survey conducted by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the police acted in an unruly manner and “committed violations.” The landowners, who staged protests, were attacked by police, the petitioner alleged, and sought a direction from the court for adequate compensation for the physical and mental agony they suffered at the hands of police.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.