The Kerala High Court has denied anticipatory bail to Shyju G.J., principal of Kattakada Christian College, and Visakh A., leader of SFI (Students’ Federation of India) in a University Union Councillor (UUC) impersonation case on the ground that the custodial interrogation is necessary.

A Single Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas held, “… this Court is of the opinion that considering the nature of allegations and taking into reckoning the influence that could be wielded by the accused over other witnesses, custodial interrogation is essential. The truth of the allegations could be unravelled only by custodial interrogation. … I find no reason to protect the petitioners, who are accused 1 and 2 in Crime No.814 of 2023 of Kattakada Police Station, with an order of pre-arrest bail.”

The Bench said that the offences alleged against the accused are serious in nature and that the sanctity of the election process has been materially affected.

Advocates Sasthamangalam S. Ajithkumar and S. Nikhil Sankar appeared for the petitioners i.e., Shyju (first accused) and Visakh (second accused) respectively while Public Prosecutors P.P. Sreeja V. and K.A. Noushad appeared for the State.

In this case, applications for anticipatory bail were filed under Section 438 of the Cr.PC. by the petitioners/accused. A crime was registered based on a complaint submitted by the Registrar of the Kerala University under which the Christian College was affiliated. As per the FIR, the first accused had with the common intention to enable the second accused to participate in the Kerala University Union elections created false documents and committed a breach of trust as well as cheating by forging the election documents of the college.

The first accused forwarded the said forged documents to Kerala University to enable the second accused to participate in the University Union elections, resulting in damage to the reputation of the university and eroding the sanctity of the election process of the university. The accused had acted in concert with each other and thereby committed the offences under Sections 409, 419, 420, 465, 468, and 471 read with Section 34 of the IPC.

The High Court in view of the above facts noted, “A perusal of the case diary and on an appreciation of the contentions advanced by the respective counsel, it is noticed that the first accused is alleged to have included the name of the second accused as the candidate duly elected in the election held on 05.12.2022 as the representative of the college to the University Union. The second accused had not even submitted his nomination for such an election and on the contrary, the elected candidate (though unanimously elected) was a different person.”

The Court further noted that without forwarding the name of the elected candidate, the principal is alleged to have included the name of the second accused in the proforma for elected candidates and that the second accused had affixed his signature as well as his photograph in the proforma for elected candidates.

“The proforma so submitted to the University entails rights to the candidate as he/she consequentially becomes eligible to be included in the voters' list for the University Union election. … The Principal of a College is not entitled by law to nominate a person to the post of University Union representative, even if it falls vacant by resignation or otherwise. The powers under section 43 of the University Act do not apply in the context. Dishonest and fraudulent conduct is prima facie evident on the part of the accused”, observed the Court.

Considering the nature of the allegations and implications, the stage of the investigation, and the materials required to be unearthed, the Court said that the custodial interrogation of the accused is essential.

“The reasons and the manner in which the name of the second accused was incorporated as the elected candidate and the surrounding circumstances are required to be brought out during investigation. … The contention of the second accused that he is totally innocent and cannot be mulcted with criminal liability for the acts of the first accused, and hence should not be subjected to custodial interrogation, is only to be rejected. Prima facie, he has affixed his signature and supplied his photographs to be affixed on the proforma, thereby aiding the creation of a false document”, also said the Court.

The Court further observed that the second accused could not even have submitted a nomination to a college election due to the age restriction as he is an undergraduate student.

“… the learned counsel for the first accused submitted that first accused is willing to surrender before the Investigating Officer on 04.07.2023, as he has an examination on 03.07.2023. Considering the aforesaid submission, I direct that in the event of the first and second accused surrendering before the Investigating Officer on or before 04.07.2023, they shall be interrogated and thereafter the procedure contemplated in accordance with law shall be complied with”, directed the Court.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the anticipatory bail applications.

Cause Title- Shyju G.J. v. State of Kerala (Neutral Citation: 2023/KER/35819)

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