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Updated: December 6, 2013 02:19 IST

Kerala Home Minister seeks clarification from DGP

Special Correspondent
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Alexander Jacob has said that enemies of the accused could have orchestrated the Facebook updates.
Alexander Jacob has said that enemies of the accused could have orchestrated the Facebook updates.

Kerala Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan late on Thursday conveyed in writing to Director General of Police, Prisons, Alexander Jacob, that he was “absolutely displeased” with certain comments allegedly made by the officer during an interaction with presspersons at his headquarters here.

Top officials said that Mr. Radhakrishnan had taken strong exception to the comment attributed to Mr. Alexander that, he, as a police officer, could not discount the possibility that some other persons inimical to the accused in the T.P. Chandrasekharan murder case could have orchestrated the updates on their Facebook accounts to prejudice the court against them.

The trial in the case was almost complete, and the court was scheduled to pass its judgment soon. Mr. Alexander, according to the Home Department, had said that the timing of the Facebook expose on television news was apparently aimed at ensuring that the accused got implicated for violating prison rules, an offence which carried a maximum punishment of six months, even if they were to be acquitted in the murder case.

Home Department officials said that Mr. Alexander had also, on the face of it, defended the CPI(M) legislator K.K. Lathika, who was accused of making an unscheduled, and thus, illegal, meeting with her husband, P. Mohanan (CPI(M) functionary and another under-trial prisoner charged with conspiracy to murder Chandrasekharan) during his transit from a hospital to prison. The government had suspended three prison officials after the images of the “illegal meeting” was aired on television.

Mr. Alexander had reportedly told presspersons that Ms. Lathika had committed no offence and that she had met her husband, a chronic diabetic and heart patient, openly and briefly when he entered a restaurant to drink water. He said media pressure had forced the government to suspend the officials who were innocent of any wrongdoing.

No press meet

The Minister has sought a clarification from Mr. Alexander for his reported comments. The DGP told The Hindu that he had not called any press conference and a set of newsmen, “around 50 of them with cameras and mikes,” were on a stakeout in front of his office for “four hours,” forcing him, finally, to address them.

He said he had just reiterated the legal position that, as of yet, there was no scientific evidence to suggest that the prisoners had updated their Facebook accounts from inside the prison and by illegally using smartphones with tacit connivance of their jail supervisors.

He said that in the absence of conclusive evidence, he, as any other law-enforcement man, had to look into all possibilities, which included the timing of the so-called news expose and who the whole episode ultimately benefited. Mr. Alexander said that he had at no point justified the prisoners or said they were innocent.

In the MLA’s case, he said he had merely pointed out that there was no law prohibiting an under-trial prisoner from speaking to his wife while in remand custody.

He said the prisons department was seriously understaffed, 800 officers to manage 7,600 prisoners, and he and his officers, in the past five years, had done their best with the limited resources at their disposal. The police had done little to follow up the cases relating to 200-odd mobile phone seizures from prisons in the State in the past three years and attacks on jailors.

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