Illegal Ivory Case- Kerala HC Dismisses Mohanlal’s Plea Against Trial Court Order, Asks Trial Court To Reconsider State’s Plea To Withdraw Case
The Kerala High Court has dismissed Actor Mohanlal’s plea against the Trial Court’s Order dismissing the plea to withdraw prosecution case against him in connection with illegal possession of ivory.
However, the Court allowed the plea filed by the State Government against the Trial Court Order and directed the Trial Court to reconsider the matter afresh.
Justice A. Badharudeen ordered thus-
“Crl.R.P.No.754/2022 at the instance of the State stands allowed by setting aside the order in CMP.628/2020 dated 09.06.2022 with direction to reconsider the same by the trial court afresh following the ratio of the decisions referred herein above.
Crl.R.P.No.591/2022 and 593/2022 stand dismissed, since the petitioners who are accused in this case, have no right to challenge an order refusing withdrawal of prosecution, since the said procedure is the prerogative of the prosecution.”
The Court has directed the Parties to appear before the Trial Court on March 3, 2023.
The factual matrix of the prosecution is that the Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattoor and the Forest Range Officer, Kodanad, had detected possession of two pairs of elephant tusks by Actor Mohanlal. The complainant, in this case, alleged that the Actor at the time of the seizure, did not have a certificate of possession as mandated under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
During the pendency of the case, the Assistant Public Prosecutor filed an application to accord sanction to withdraw the case as against all the accused persons in the interest of justice.
The Magistrate considered the petition after hearing the Prosecutor and the third party intervenors and dismissed the application.
The ADGP argued that the court below went wrong in disallowing the application. It was argued that the purpose of enactment of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 is to avoid killing of wild life. It was further submitted that the possession of 2 tusks left by a captive elephant and withdrawal of prosecution initiated for the said occurrence would not defeat intention of the legislation in any manner.
Advocate K.R.Radhakrishnan Nair appeared for Actor Mohanlal whereas Additional Director General of Prosecution Gracious Kuriakose appeared for the revision petitioner-State.
The Court noted that valid grounds for seeking withdrawal shall be public policy, interest of administration, expediency to proceed with the prosecution for reasons of State and paucity of evidence.
The Court also added that “…while granting consent, the Court must be satisfied that the Public Prosecutor has not improperly exercised his power or the same is not an attempt to interfere with the normal course of justice. Further the Court has to see that the Public Prosecutor made application in good faith, in the interest of public policy and justice, and not to thwart or stifle the process of law.”
The Court observed that the prayer for withdrawal of prosecution of the present case sought for by the Government requires reconsideration by the trial court within the ambit of the settled principles.
Accordingly, the Court remanded the matter back to the Trial Court for reconsideration.
Cause Title- V.Mohanlal v. State of Kerala & Ors