Kerala’s bid to close 2015 assembly violence case earns stern remark by court
Kerala government cited privilege of members of the assembly to seek dismissal of the case.Updated: Sep 23, 2020, 09:42 IST
In a setback to the Kerala government, a court in Thiruvananthapuram turned down its plea to close the case pertaining to violent incidents in the state assembly in the year 2015, in which two ministers are facing charges for destroying public property. The chief judicial magistrate court has asked all the accused to be present before the court on October 15.
The House witnessed ruckus in March 2015 after Left Democratic Front (LDF) legislators prevented then finance minister K M Mani from presenting the state budget. Angry members snapped mikes, destroyed furniture and damaged lights. In the melee, two legislators had to be hospitalized. The session was being broadcast live when the violent incidents unfolded in the House.
Then Speaker N Sakthan later filed a police complaint against six LDF legislators, two of them-- E P Jayarajan and K T Jaleel-- are ministers in the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet now. The complaint said property worth Rs 2.5 lakh was damaged in the melee and the accused tried to manhandle treasury bench members. But the case did not make any progress and when the LDF came to power in 2016, the public prosecutor had sought permission to withdraw the case.
The government has invoked the privilege of legislators to justify its decision to withdraw the case but the court rejected it saying privilege was not a licence to carry out violent activities. During a discussion in the assembly last year, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said assembly proceedings should not be dragged to courts.
But two rights activists, M T Thomas and M Peter, later impleaded in the case saying that law-makers should be role models for others and withdrawing a criminal case against them for destroying assembly property will set a bad precedent.
Counsel for petitioner Ajit Joy, contended that the violence was telecast live and viewed by general public and withdrawing the case will encourage others to commit the same crime and get away easily. He said though the case was posted 15 times between May 2019 and June 2020, the hearing was deliberately delayed at the instance of the prosecution and the accused.
A spokesman of the state government said it will move the high court soon. But the opposition Congress has hailed the verdict. “We will ensure a logical conclusion to the case and ensure that erring ones are punished. It will only help increase the dignity of the House,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.