The year 2013 saw the High Court of Kerala deliver justice in some of the most sensitive cases such as the Soumya murder case.

In the Soumya murder case, a Division Bench comprising Justice T.R.Ramachandran Nair and Justice B. Kemal Pasha confirmed the death sentence awarded by the Thrissur Fast Track Court to the lone accused, Govindachamy, in the rape case . The incident took place on February 1, 2011. The court also flayed the Railways for not taking into account the safety of the passengers.

Land grab cases

The State government and the police came under criticism for their “indifference” in the two land grab cases in which Salim Raj, former gunman of Chief Minister Ommmen Chandy, is involved. The government was pulled up when the report filed by the Revenue Principal Secretary into the allegation of forgery and manipulation in the revenue records came up before the court. The report was submitted following a court directive to the Principal Secretary .The inquiry found that the Revenue records in the two cases were fabricated and new Thandaper records created by “the Revenue officials fraudulently with the help of some of the respondents and a few others”. The court has now asked the government to take appropriate action against the erring Revenue officials and report to the court.

The police were also put on the mat in another case for allegedly turning a blind eye to complaints regarding harassment and petitions for police protection by the common people. The Bench said that police were very much interested in settling civil cases rather than providing police protection.

Requests by the State government on two occasions for sparing a sitting judge to head a judicial commission inquiring into the solar scam cases were rejected by the High Court. It cited shortage of judges as well as a Supreme Court ruling against providing sitting judges to head commissions as reason for spurning the request.

Grounds for divorce

In another landmark ruling, the High Court had held that a spouse’s refusal not to have children amounted to cruelty and that it was sufficient ground for granting divorce to a spouse who wanted to have children.

The ruling that the Ombudsman for local self-government institutions has no jurisdiction to entertain complaints regarding payment of money claimed by contractors or other agencies against local bodies was another important verdict of the High Court. The court held that the Ombudsman could only look into complaints of maladministration or corruption in the panchayats under the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act.

In another significant judgment, the High Court awarded compensation of Rs.2.5 lakh to the parents of a man from Kasaragod who was allegedly murdered for marrying a Muslim girl.

The court passed the verdict while allowing a petition filed by G. Gopalan and his wife seeking compensation on account of the failure of the State government to protect their son.

In another verdict, the High Court had held as arbitrary and illegal the State Bank of India’s decisions to publish photos of loan defaulters in newspapers. The court observed that the practice of exhibiting photos of a defaulter and shaming him in public for the sin of not paying back the amount could not be encouraged in civilised societies.

Besides, the decision lacked legal backing, it added.

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