Missing files from Court of Small Causes a big mystery

A day after ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the disappearance of about 100 case bundles from the residence of its former judge T. Mathivanan, the Madras High Court on Thursday ordered a Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) enquiry into how 55 case bundles have gone missing from the Court of Small Causes located within the High Court campus here.

Justice P.N. Prakash passed the order after expressing shock and surprise over the happenings. He pointed out that all 55 case bundles, which had gone missing from the small causes court last year, belonged to an individual advocate and all of them were related to compensation sought by motor accident victims. The bundles were yet to be traced by the personnel attached to the High Court Police Station.

“This is indeed ominous and signals the beginning of internecine war amongst the practitioners in the MCOP (Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Original Petition) field. This blood money by ambulance chasers has now taken the ugly form of a Frankenstein monster and I am afraid that it may, at any time, devour the entire judicial system before which we have to press the alarm bell,” the judge said with a sense of distress.

Case booked last year

He recalled that the advocate, S. Thambi, had given a representation to the Registrar of small causes court stating that the bundles of 55 cases filed by him between 2012 and 2017 had gone missing mysteriously from the court records.

After conducting a preliminary enquiry, the Registrar lodged a complaint at the High Court Police Station on June 7, 2017, and a case was booked under Section 380 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code.

Since the investigation in the case was still pending and neither the bundles nor the offenders had been identified, the judge asked himself: “What next? Can this court remain mute to the happenings in the MCOP field and taken an ostrich-like attitude?” In the same breath, he answered the question in the negative and ordered transfer of the ongoing investigation to the CB-CID (Metro) for unravelling the mystery of the missing bundles.

On Wednesday, Justice G. Jayachandran had ordered a CBI probe into the issue of case bundles sent to Mr. Mathivanan’s residence, before his retirement, having not been returned to the High Court Registry.

“It is alarming to note that case bundles, hundred in numbers, have disappeared from the radar like missing vessels in Bermuda triangle,” the judge had said before ordering the investigating agency to get to the bottom of the matter.

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