VERDICTUM NEWS DESK

After the strong remarks of the Kerala High Court on the inaction of State Police in identifying and taking action against the policemen who were involved in damaging motorbikes of devotees near Sabarimala, an affidavit has been filed before the High Court on behalf of the State Police Chief stating that three more policemen have been identified, taking the total number to six. It is said in the affidavit that out of eight policemen who have been found to have indulged in violence, two are yet to be identified.

However, not only has the names of the six identified personnel been withheld, the State Police Chief has merely recommended disciplinary proceedings against them. The petitioner before the High Court has alleged that the State Government is trying to protect the guilty policemen by withholding their names and by not registering criminal cases against them. The High Court had by an earlier order directed the State Police Chief to produce the list of policemen who are involved in the incident. The petitioner has demanded that offenses under section 427 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and section 113 of the Kerala Police Act, 2011 be registered against the policemen.

Pointing out that the State Police has registered hundreds of cases against Sabarimala devotees relying on images captured from videos, the petitioner has filed an application before the High Court seeking publication of photos of the policemen involved in damaging vehicles to facilitate their identification. In October last year, the Kerala Police had released an ‘album’ containing photos of hundreds of devotees taken from videos of devotees who had arrived at Sabarimala for pilgrimage. In some cases, based merely on their appearance and posture, it was alleged by police that they were not genuine devotees but persons who had come to Sabarimala only to protest. Strangely, the Kerala Police had taken a stand that even ‘nama japam’ or reciting prayers in groups is a method of protest, which was declared impermissible.

The High Court will consider the case on 1st April, 2019.

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