Sabarimala Agitation: Kerala HC Quashes Case Registered Pursuant To Kerala DGP's Controversial Circular
There must be legal evidence to inculpate a person in a crime, the Court observed.
Kerala High Court has quashed a crime registered against Hindu Aikya Vedi leader K. P. Sasikala, registered pursuant to the controversial circular issued by the Director General of Kerala Police with respect to the hartal called during the Sabarimala agitation.
The then DGP and State Police Chief Loknath Behera had issued a circular in March, 2019 to all District Police Chiefs to array the leaders of the organisations that called a hartal in the state in January, 2019 pursuant to the entry of a woman of restricted age into the Sabarimala temple under the protection of Police, as co-accused in all criminal cases registered on that day.
The circular referred to a letter of the then Additional Advocate General to the State Police Chief and a legal opinion of the then Director General of Prosecution to array those who called the hartal as co-accused in all the cases registered on the date of hartal.
Pursuant to the said circular, state leaders of the BJP and other allied organisations were arrayed as co-accused in hundreds of cases registered across the state in relation to the Sabarimala protests.
One such case registered against K. P. Sasikala was challenged before the High Court. It was contended in the Petition filed through Advocate Sajith Kumar V. that there is no allegation that the petitioner either participated or abetted in the crime and that she was made an accused only pursuant to the circular of the DGP.
"The procedure adopted to book the Petitioner is unknown in Criminal Law"; the petitioner had contended.
While allowing the petition, Justice K. Haripal has held that "After going through the final report it is very patent that the petitioner was nowhere in the picture. None of the witnesses has stated that she had abetted or instigated the commission of the crime. Her presence has not been seen by any of the witnesses. Therefore it cannot be said that she had shared the common object of an unlawful assembly in committing the crime. There is no allegation that she had abetted the crime or indulged in any act of conspiracy with the other accused."
Though the order was passed on the 10th March, it became available only recently. The Court has held in the order that "...it is a basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that there must be legal evidence to inculpate a person in a crime".
The Court has also held that there was no material to say that the petitioner had made any statement through media exhorting to commit violence or that the other accused were doing something in furtherance of such call. The Court also took note of the fact that the state government had passed an order permitting Public Prosecutors to withdraw cases relating to the Sabarimala protests.