A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday acquitted 13 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists convicted by the Thiruvananthapuram Additional District and Sessions Court in a case relating to the murder of Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] worker V.V. Vishnu, near Kaithamukku, in Thiruvananthapuram in April 2008.
The Bench comprising Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice C. Jayachandran passed the verdict while allowing the appeals filed by the convicted RSS activists against the district court verdict.
Except for two accused, all others were sentenced to separate life imprisonment by the sessions court. The acquitted are T. Santhosh of Kaithamukku; Manoj alias Kakkotta Manoj; Binukumar and Harilal of Keraladityapuram; Renjith Kumar of Manacaud; Balu Mahendran of Malappirikkonam; Vipin of Anayara; Satheesh Kumar of Kudavoor; Bose of Pettah; Manikantan of Vattiyoorkavu; Vinod Kumar of Chenchri; Subash of Sreekariyam; and Sivalal of Karikkakam.
When the appeals came up for hearing, P. Vijaya Bhanu and B. Raman Pillai, senior counsel for the convicts, contended that there was no incriminating material against the accused. The investigation was tainted from the very beginning and argued that the entire prosecution against the accused was engineered to satisfy the ruling party diktats.’
The prosecution case was that there had been violent clashes between activists of the RSS and CPI(M) in the areas since 2001, which led to the murder of Vishnu.
Acquitting all the convicts, the court observed that the prosecution failed to prove any corroborative circumstance, but for the political rivalry existing between the two groups. There was absolutely “no evidence worth its salt”.
The eye-witness testimonies were incredulous, the identification unbelievable and the recoveries unsubstantiated. The manner in which events were portrayed before the court, smacked of a deliberate attempt to tutor witnesses and collect evidence, to define a scripted story.
The omissions and contradictions in the “ocular testimony” again put the prosecution in the defence and raised questions about the veracity of the story projected before the court. The recoveries and seizures were strained and most of the witnesses paraded before court turned hostile.