LDF MLAs may have to face trial

The Kerala High Court has upheld a trial court order rejecting the plea for withdrawal of prosecution against a group of Left Democratic Front (LDF) MLAs โ€” then in Opposition โ€” for disrupting the Assembly proceedings on March 13, 2015, the day the Budget was presented.

Ministers E.P. Jayarajan and K.T. Jaleel and Left Democratic Front leaders K. Ajith, V. Sivankutty, C.K. Sadasivan and K. Kunhammed โ€” MLAs at that time โ€” are the accused in the case.

The LDF legislators had objected to the then Finance Minister K.M. Mani presenting the Budget, citing the corruption charges he faced. As tension escalated, some legislators climbed on the Speakerโ€™s dais and damaged his chair, computer, mike and emergency lamp, causing a loss of โ‚น2.2 lakh to the exchequer.

A case was booked against the MLAs by the United Democratic Front (UDF) government under the Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act and the Indian Penal Code. An application for the withdrawal of prosecution filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Thiruvananthapuram, was rejected. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government and some legislators filed criminal revision petitions before the High Court against the order of the CJM.

Upholding the decision of the CJM, Justice V.G. Arun Kumar said the trial court rejected the petition for valid and sustainable reasons. Though the prerogative to request withdrawal of prosecution was vested with the public prosecutor, such โ€œdiscretion should be exercised free of extraneous considerations or influences and should be based on cogent and convincing reasons,โ€ the court said.

The court refused to accept the contention of Additional Advocate General that withdrawal of prosecution would advance the interest of public justice by ensuring that the prestige of the Assembly was not lowered in the eyes of the citizens. โ€œIt is for the elected representatives to uphold the prestige of the House and face the consequences for violations…,โ€ the court noted.

(With PTI inputs)

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