Express News Service

KOCHI: As the state is again witnessing protests by political parties daily, the cases registered by the police in such instances most often end up in mass acquittal.This year, the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court Special Court for MLAs and MPs pronounced verdicts in 17 cases related to political protests that took place between 2016 and 2021 in the district. Of these, 11 cases ended up in acquittal of all accused persons. There was only one case in which all accused persons were convicted. As many as six cases ended up in conviction of some of the accused.

Interestingly, the maximum punishment in these cases was handed to three Lakshadweep natives who were part of a protest march in front of the island administration’s office in Kochi on June 23, 2021. They were ordered to pay a penalty of Rs 200 each for violation of IPC Section 269 (unlawfully does any act that is likely to spread infection of disease) and Rs 1,000 under the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance.
Leading political leaders who were convicted by the court this year were Congress leaders M C Kamaruddin and M Govindan Nair in a case related to a protest held at Desom Junction in Chengamanad village in February 18, 2019. They were asked to pay a penalty of Rs 800 each.

The only case in which the court convicted all accused persons was related to the Youth Congress protest held at Vyttila-Edappally NH stretch on September 14, 2017. Youth Congress state secretary Ajith Ameer Bava and Thrikkakara mandalam president Faizal were ordered to pay a fine of Rs 200 each.
Leaders like Anwar Sadath, Benny Behanan, Dean Kuriakose, M C Kamarudheen, M Govindan Nair, Dominic Presentation, Hibi Eden, T J Vinod, Johny Nellore, P C Chacko, V D Satheesan and V P Sajeendran were acquitted in various cases by the court this year.

The most recent acquittal was on May 31 in a case related to a protest held on January 26, 2020. Opposition Leader Satheesan and 14 others were acquitted in this case.“There is no evidence to show that the accused assembled in pursuance of their common objective to spread Covid and that they committed rioting,” stated the order. Advocate Mohammed Siyad who appeared for UDF leaders said the police foist charges in political revenge.

“These cases end up in acquittal as the police fail to collect any proper evidence against the protestors. They bring in police officials who are pro-government as witnesses. In most cases, there would not be any independent witness. These cases are registered to suppress protests against the wrongdoing of the government,” Siyad said.

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