Central Bureau of Investigation special judge S. Vijayakumar on Wednesday convicted the former Inspector-General of Police, K. Lakshmana, in the Verghese fake encounter case. Naxalite leader A. Verghese was killed 40 years ago in Wayanad.
The judge, however, acquitted P. Vijayan, former Director-General of Police and third accused, in the absence of sufficient evidence against him.
The judge found Mr. Lakshmana, the second accused, guilty of the offence punishable under Section 302 (murder) read with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
The sentence will be pronounced on Thursday.
Mr. Lakshmana and Mr. Vijayan were present in the court when the verdict was delivered. Mr. Lakshmana was later remanded to a sub-jail in Kochi.
The CBI took over the investigation on a directive from the High Court in 1999.
The directive came on a writ petition alleging that the Naxalite leader was killed in a fake encounter in 1970 in the Thirunelli forest in Wayanad.
The police version that Verghese died in an encounter was blown apart by the former police constable, P. Ramachandran Nair, who came out with an astonishing revelation in 1998 — some 28 years after the incident — that he had shot Verghese dead on the orders of the then Superintendent of Police, Mr. Vijayan, and the then Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr. Lakshmana.
Ramachandran Nair died in November 2006.
As many as 31 witnesses, including Verghese's brother, were examined before the court after the trial began in April.
The special judge mainly relied on the evidence of A.K. Mohammed Haneef, a former policeman who was present in the forest along with Ramachandran Nair; Prabhakara Warrier, a classmate of Verghese, and agricultural labourer Jogi, for convicting the second accused.
The court observed; “It is proved beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that Verghese, who was caught alive, was brutally killed by A1 [Ramachandran Nair], who was a stooge at the hands of A2 [Mr. Lakshmana], who on his order/command brought about his plan. It is thus satisfied that the theory of Verghese's death in police encounter is an advance defence moulded as a pretext to commit the crime.”
The court said the deposition of Mr. Haneef was sufficient to prove that it was Ramachandran Nair who fired the shot on Mr. Lakshmana's orders. Mr. Haneef's statement established the presence of Mr. Lakshmana on the spot.
“The offence of murder had been committed as good as by the second accused.”
The judge also said that the chances of the Naxalite leader, who was alone in the forest, engaging in an encounter with a team of armed policemen “were remote.”
Acquitting Mr. Vijayan, the judge said that the evidence “was not sufficient to prove the involvement of the third accused in the crime beyond reasonable doubt.”