7 Jun 2022 10:45 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently dropped all charges against Hindu Aikya Vedi leader K. P. Sasikala and General Convenor of Sabarimala Karma Samithi SJR Kumar for purportedly triggering a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the State to protest the entry of women into Sabarimala temple in 2018.The said hartal had resulted in large-scale vandalism against which a PIL was moved before this Court to fix...
The Kerala High Court recently dropped all charges against Hindu Aikya Vedi leader K. P. Sasikala and General Convenor of Sabarimala Karma Samithi SJR Kumar for purportedly triggering a dawn-to-dusk hartal in the State to protest the entry of women into Sabarimala temple in 2018.
The said hartal had resulted in large-scale vandalism against which a PIL was moved before this Court to fix liability for the damages caused. The then State Police Chief had issued a circular to all District Police Chiefs to array the leaders of organisations that called the hartal as co-accused in all criminal cases registered that day.
Justice Ziyad Rahman quashed the final report filed against the petitioners finding that the allegations were not properly substantiated by the prosecution.
"After examining all the relevant inputs, I am of the firm view that none of the offences alleged against the petitioners are attracted. The prosecution against the petitioners in pursuance to Annexure-B (final report) is a clear abuse of process of law. In such circumstances, I am inclined to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Section 482 CrPC. In the result, the CrlMC is allowed."
The prosecution argued that on 03.01.2019, accused 3 to 5 committed mischief by vandalizing the auto-rickshaw owned by the de facto complainant and thereby caused damage to the auto-rickshaw. It is further alleged that a hartal was called for by the petitioners, and they were thereby charged under Sections 294(b), 506(i), 427 r/w Section 34 of IPC.
The petitioners accordingly moved the High Court seeking to quash all further proceedings pursuant to the final report.
Advocates Sajith Kumar V, Vivek A.K, Godwin Joseph, Aparna Chandran and Remya Varma N.K appearing for the petitioner argued that the materials produced along with the final report and the contents thereof do not reveal the offences against the petitioners. It is pointed out that, the acts which allegedly constitute the offences are alleged to have been committed by accused 3 to 5 and there is absolutely no role assigned to the petitioners herein.
On the other hand, Government Pleader Nima Jacob opposed the same pointing out that the question of involvement of the petitioners is a matter of evidence, which cannot be considered at this stage of the proceedings.
After consideration of the F.I.R. and final report, the Court noted that the only allegation against the petitioners was that they called for a hartal. However, the crux of the allegation which constitutes the offences was the act physically committed by the accused 3 to 5.
"On perusal of the records, it is evident that in none of the statements of the witnesses recorded under Section 161 of Cr.P.C., the names of the petitioners are seen mentioned. Apart from the mere statement that the petitioners have called for a hartal, there is absolutely nothing mentioned in the final report indicating the culpability of the petitioners."
Regarding the allegation of calling for hartal, the Judge held that the same by itself cannot be an act attracting any of the offences alleged. Even though the petitioners are seen implicated on the strength of Section 34 of the IPC, there are absolutely no materials indicating any common intention being shared by the petitioners with the accused 3 to 5, it was found.
The Court was also informed of another recent decision where the criminal prosecution initiated against the first petitioner with a similar allegation was quashed. I have also taken into account the observations made by this Court in the aforesaid judgment.
As such, the final report was quashed and the petitioners' application was allowed.
Case Title: K.P. Sasikala & Anr. v. State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 264
Click Here To Read/Download The Order