A special division bench dealing with idol theft cases, comprising Justice R Mahadevan and Justice P D Audikesavalu, set aside the purchase documents submitted by the duo pertaining to the idols unearthed from their residences and other properties, and adjourned their anticipatory bail plea for further hearing to October 23.
Earlier, while seeking the custodial interrogation of Shah, Idol Wing chief, Inspector General of police A G Ponn Manickavel, informed the bench that as many as 222 artefacts, including idols and pillars, enough to set up a temple for the deity, Perumal, were recovered from Shah’s residences. Moreover, the idol theft kingpin Dheenadhayalan had confessed, providing information against Shah, he added.
When the bench suggested a direction for his daily appearance in response to the Idol Wing’s plea for Shah’s custody, Ponn Manickavel clarified that it would be difficult for them to interrogate a person under such protection.
Meanwhile, opposing the police’s request for custody, Shah’s counsel submitted that they had already produced purchase certificates issued for legal possession of the idols and sought more time to produce the entire set of documents.
But wondering as to how Shah could have purchased the idols from an art gallery when the statutes make it clear that none can sell antique idols belonging to temples, the bench said, “Whatever documents are made available in this regard, you still cannot prove that those idols were purchased from licensed sellers,” the bench added.
However, the bench extended till October 23 the protection from arrest granted to TVS group chairman Venu Srinivasan and Tamil Nadu chief sculptor M Muthaiah in connection with pending idol theft cases.