High Court verdict in Marad case
A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday awarded life imprisonment to as many as 24 accused who had been acquitted by the Kozhikode Additional Sessions Court (Special) in the Marad massacre case.
The case related to the May 2003 communal attack on the Marad beach in which eight persons were killed and many injured. The court also asked the 24 accused to pay a fine of Rs.25,000 each.
The Bench comprising Justice M. Sasidharan Nambiar and Justice P. Bhavadasan also confirmed the life imprisonment awarded to 62 accused by the special court.
The court also upheld the sentencing of the 63rd accused to five-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs.2,000 under the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act. The court directed the 24 accused to surrender before the special court on August 24 for serving the sentence.
The Bench, while reversing the sessions court order on acquittal of the accused, observed there was convincing evidence against them for being members of the unlawful assembly that carried out the attack on the Marad beach.
It said the acquitted persons had accompanied the other accused who had indulged in the “overt act”, resulting in the death of eight persons and injuries to others.
These accused could not argue that they were innocent onlookers or silent spectators. Nor they could contend that they were there to protect the victims.
They were fully aware of the purpose of the unlawful assembly and had actively participated in the attack.
The court also dismissed the appeal of the State government seeking to enhance the life imprisonment of 14 accused to death sentence. The government pleaded that these accused be awarded capital punishment on the ground that they had committed more than one murders.
The Bench observed that the case of these accused did not come under the rarest of rare cases and this was not a case where the capital punishment was warranted.
Counsel for the accused had also contended that most of the accused had felt repentant and were remorseful. Besides, none of the accused had criminal antecedents. It was also pointed out that these accused who were illiterate poor fishermen were a mere tool in the hands of somebody.
The prosecution case was that the attack was launched in retaliation for the killing of three persons belonging to a particular community in a 2002 attack.
The prosecution case was argued by specially appointed Prosecutor P.Vijayabhanu.