Kerala

Move to drop ivory case against Mohanlal comes under cloud

NOC for withdrawing wildlife crime case against actor Mohanlal

The State government, which issued a no objection certificate (NOC) for withdrawing the wildlife crime case booked against actor Mohanlal, will have a lot of explaining to do regarding the public interest involved in the decision.

The withdrawal of the prosecution in a case by invoking Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code is the discretion of the Public Prosecutor. However, the prosecutor needs to convince the court that the withdrawal is in the interest of the administration of justice. The court should also appreciate the reasons cited for withdrawal and convince itself that the application was not made under pressure or any other extraneous considerations, said a former public prosecutor.

Cases should be withdrawn with the consent of the court, only if the prosecutor felt that it would serve the larger public interest, he said.

While considering the application for withdrawal, the court also had to find out whether the prosecutor had applied his mind in deciding to withdraw the case and he was not merely carrying out the decision of the government. The Supreme Court had recently pointed out that the Public Prosecutors should act as independent persons and should not be guided by the instructions of the government. The court also suggested that Public Prosecutors should not act like post offices, a senior lawyer said.

The judicial officer can reject the application for withdrawal of the case if he is not convinced about the public interest involved in the decision. Recently, the Special Court trying cases against MLAs and MPs had rejected the State government’s plea to withdraw a case booked against V.K.C. Mammad Koya, MLA, sources said.

Earlier, the Vigilance Special Court, Thrissur, had rejected the UDF government's decision to withdraw the palmolein import case against former Chief Minister K. Karunakaran, judicial sources pointed out.

While considering the withdrawal application, the court may send notices to the petitioners concerned in the case. It can even permit public-spirited persons to implead themselves in cases, judicial sources pointed out.

CPI(M) leader V.S. Achuthanandan had thus successfully challenged a decision of the UDF government to withdraw a case booked against Kerala Congress (B) leader R. Balakrishna Pillai, legal sources pointed out.

Since the offence committed was against a central law, the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, only a prosecutor appointed by the Central government or a State prosecutor authorised by the Central government could move the application for withdrawal of prosecution, pointed out judicial sources.

The Hindu had on Friday reported that the State government had issued an NOC for withdrawing the case against the actor. Mr. Mohanlal was arraigned as first accused in the case for procurement and keeping elephant tusks.

The trial of the case is being held at the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Perumbavoor.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:36:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ivory-case-govt-should-explain-stand/article30895765.ece

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