Staff Reporter

Says failure of the police should be inquired into

Kochi: The Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, expressed concern over the failure of the police to arrest Abdul Rehim, alias Bechu Rahman, fourth accused in the Sabarimala Tantri assault case.

Justice K.R. Udayabhanu, while cancelling the bail granted to the first accused, Sobha John, said the failure should be inquired into. The judge rescinded the bail granted by the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate after allowing a petition filed by the State Government against the lower court's order.

The judge noted with distress that the initial phase of the investigation had gone haywire. The accent was on exposing the victim. The first accused was not questioned, although she was arrested.

The judge said the case diary revealed that Bechu Rahman was in or near the city for at least five days after the incident. But till details of the cellphone calls made by the accused were obtained, his role did not surface.

He noted that there was delay in getting the call details, though the police could have collected them in no time. It was not clear if the interrogators were hamstrung by any institutional constraints.

He observed that the bail was granted at a time when the rest of the accused and the fourth accused were at large. The magistrate had only considered the fact that the first accused, a woman, was given in police custody for four days. The fact that media coverage of minute details of her alleged exploits was not reflected in the case diary might have influenced the lower court.

Considering the extremely revolting and degrading nature of the offence and the alleged involvement of the first accused in the main conspiracy, the lower court ought not to have treated the matter in a lighter vein, especially when the investigation was on the threshold. Besides, the magistrate court had failed in objectively assessing the gravity of the offence, alleged role of the accused and possibility of tampering with the evidence.

Hearing adjourned

The court adjourned to August 29 hearing on an anticipatory bail petition filed by Bechu Rehman.

Justice J.M. James adjourned the hearing to enable the prosecutor to get instructions from the State Government in the case.

In the petition, Bechu Rehman said that he had been falsely implicated in the case.

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