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Kerala High Court Orders Appearance Of Ex-Judicial Officer S Sudeep Over FB Post Criticizing Orders In Fake Antique Dealer Case

Hannah M Varghese
17 Dec 2021 11:06 AM GMT
Kerala High Court Orders Appearance Of Ex-Judicial Officer S Sudeep Over FB Post Criticizing Orders In Fake Antique Dealer Case
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"Since he was a judicial officer, certainly, I would like to hear him so he can inform me where the Court has been going wrong according to him", Justice Devan Ramachandran observed.

The Kerala High Court on Friday took note of a post allegedly uploaded on the Facebook handle of a former judicial officer S. Sudeep, which attacked the orders passed by it in the infamous fake antique dealer Monson Mavunkal's case. The Facebook post had allegedly ridiculed the Judge for the approach taken in the case and had expressed particular objection to the impleadment of...

The Kerala High Court on Friday took note of a post allegedly uploaded on the Facebook handle of a former judicial officer S. Sudeep, which attacked the orders passed by it in the infamous fake antique dealer Monson Mavunkal's case. 

The Facebook post had allegedly ridiculed the Judge for the approach taken in the case and had expressed particular objection to the impleadment of the Enforcement Directorate and DGP into the matter. 

After perusing the contents of the said post, Justice Devan Ramachandran orally remarked:

"He can write anything he wants on social media; I'm not against that. But he seems scared about the ongoing investigation and this suggests that he has some connection with the 5th accused (Mavunkal). If the Police deems it necessary, look into this and see if this man is involved in some manner."

Also Read: Fake Antique Dealer Case: Kerala High Court Slams Police Chief For Levelling Baseless Accusations Against Court

The Judge further remarked that although slanderous statements could be overlooked, interfering with the administration of justice by disrupting ongoing judicial proceedings was not permissible. Therefore, the Registry was directed to instantaneously verify the authenticity of the post and provide the Court with a copy of the same accompanied with a translation.

The Registry has also been directed to issue notice to Sudeep through multiple modes permitted by law. Accordingly, the former judicial officer has been directed to appear before the Court on the next posting date, i.e., 23rd December 2021.

"When I read what is written by the aforementioned individual –  assuming it to be true – it can only mean that he seems to be harboring certain notions about the manner in which this Court has to act and the limits of my jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Since, he is stated to have been a Judicial Officer, I would certainly like to hear him, so that he can inform me where this Court has been going
wrong, according to him."
The social media post was brought to the attention of the court by a member of the Bar Council, Advocate Mohammed Shah. 

Director-General of Prosecution T.A Shaji submitted that action may be taken if the police officers receive any complaint on the same. The Court did not entirely approve of this stand but left the final decision to be taken by the Police. 

"...some of his statements therein would indicate that he has something to do with this case, particularly when he criticized this Court for allowing

certain impleadments, which have, in fact, been accepted by the respondents also. The pattern of his suggestions in the 'post', clearly discern a desire to help someone, by painting this Court in a bad light; and I, therefore, leave liberty to the State Police Chief to cause necessary enquiries into this and report before this Court by the next posting date."

S Sudeep, who was a Sub Judge, had resigned from judicial service earlier this year while he was facing High Court inquiry over his social media comments.

Regarding the ongoing investigation, the Bench made it clear that it wants the ED and the Crime Branch to work in tandem and repeated that it did not want any cover-up in the case

"I must certainly make it clear that the intent of this Court is to ensure that the Enforcement Directorate works in conjunction with the Crime Branch when the investigation to the Crimes are going on. This is because, the allegations made by the petitioner in this case are against certain Police Officers and during the course of the consideration of this case, it has come out that even an Officer in the rank of an Inspector General has been suspended and disciplinary action initiated against him. Prima facie, therefore, the reach of the 5th respondent - particularly when there are indications of persons outside India also being involved - cannot be taken lightly; and that a proper investigation without any error will have to be taken forward and completed."

Central Government Counsel Jaishankar V. Nair representing ED sought time to file counter pleadings and the details of the ongoing investigation as directed by the Court. These will be made available on 23rd December. 

The State represented by the DGP assisted by Additional Public Prosecutor P.Narayanan submitted that since the Special Investigation Team of the Crime Branch is looking into every facet of the various crimes involving Mavunkal, no further orders are required in the case.  

The observations came in a petition filed by the dealer's former driver, who had alleged harassment from his ex-employer and certain police officers close to him.

During the previous hearing, a doctor who had examined a survivor of sexual assault allegedly at the hands of Mavunkal also moved the Court seeking police protection as she had been receiving threats from Mavunkal and his associates.

At the hearing today, however, the Court was informed that the survivor has complained against the doctor and that a crime has been registered on its basis. The petitioner doctor sought quashing of the investigation against her, which the Court duly declined. However, she was granted police protection as prayed for.

Case Title: Ajith E.V. v. The Commissioner of Police & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Order


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