Discharge petition in Kerala Assembly ruckus case smacks of conflict of interest

Government will have to don the dual roles of accused and defendant, as a Cabinet Minister stands accused in the case in which public property was destroyed, say legal experts

July 31, 2021 02:00 pm | Updated November 22, 2021 09:55 pm IST - KOCHI

Then Left Democratic Front MLA V. Sivankutty trying to break the corridor made by watch and ward staff inside the Kerala Assembly on March 13, 2015.

Then Left Democratic Front MLA V. Sivankutty trying to break the corridor made by watch and ward staff inside the Kerala Assembly on March 13, 2015.

The discharge petition filed by LDF leaders, including Kerala Education Minister V. Sivankutty, in the Assembly ruckus case smacks of serious conflict of interest, according to legal experts.

The State government has to don the dual roles of the accused and the defendant in the case, as one of its Cabinet Ministers stands accused in the case in which public property was destroyed. As the government is considered the guardian of public interest, the position it may adopt in the case involving trespass and destruction of public property would be of high legal significance, they said.

 

The case is likely to come up before the trial court in the second week of August.

It was the Supreme Court order dismissing the State government’s plea to quash the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s decision not to allow withdrawal of case against the LDF leaders that set off the legal battle yet again.

The Public Prosecutor, who represents the State government in the court, may also find himself ill at ease, as he may have to push his arguments against the accused, including Mr. Sivankutty, with the government having suffered pecuniary loss due to the unruly happenings in the Assembly.

Interestingly, the government itself had earlier admitted before courts that it had suffered a loss of around ₹2.20 lakh as the MLAs climbed over the Speaker’s dais on March 13, 2015 and damaged his chair, computer, mike, and emergency lamp in an attempt to prevent Finance Minister K.M. Mani from presenting the annual Budget.

As the pecuniary loss was estimated by the Public Works Department (PWD), another government agency, PWD officials; Legislative Assembly Secretary, who filed a complaint regarding the incident; watch and ward staff, and other government officials who witnessed the happenings may also have to depose before the court.

Officials may find themselves in a fix, as they will have to depose before the court in a case in which a State Minister has been arraigned as an accused. The officials, who had earlier given statements to the police in the case, also run the risk of being labelled hostile, if they deviate from their earlier position, sources pointed out.

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