The Special Court SC/ST (POA) Act at Mannarkkad in Palakkad on Tuesday deferred its decision on the prosecution’s demand for cancellation of bail given to the accused in the Attappady Madhu lynching case. The court deferred its decision to August 20 after completing the hearing on the prosecution’s demand.
The prosecution argued that the accused had violated the bail conditions imposed by the High Court and also tried to influence the witnesses. The prosecution submitted pieces of evidence to prove that the accused had tried to influence the witnesses directly and through intermediaries.
According to the prosecution, some of the accused, Marakkar, Shamsuddin, Najeeb and Sajeev, had tried to influence the witnesses more than others. Indicating phone call records, the prosecution argued that the accused had contacted some witnesses up to 63 times.
The court had suspended the trial proceedings in the lynching case on August 10, when the prosecution raised a demand for cancellation of the bail given to the accused on the grounds that many of the witnesses had turned hostile following the influence by the accused.
Although the court had decided to expedite the trial following a directive by the High Court, the prosecution demand brought the trial to a halt. The High Court had asked the Special Court SC/ST (POA) Act, Mannarkkad, to complete the trial before August 31.
The court had decided to try five witnesses a day as part of speeding up the process. Although a committee headed by the District and Sessions Judge had decided to implement the witness protection scheme last month, witnesses continued to turn hostile. As many as 13 witnesses have turned hostile since the trial started on June 8. Some of them had given confidential statements before the court.
The police had arrested Shifan, grandson of Abbas who was accused of threatening Madhu’s family for withdrawing from the case. The police recovered ₹36 lakh from Shifan’s house, and the court had denied bail for him.
Madhu’s mother and sister had complained that Abbas persistently threatened them to withdraw from the case. He reportedly reached Madhu’s house on July 8 and threatened them with dire consequences if they did not drop the case.
Madhu’s sister Sarasu had alleged that some of the accused had offered them a house worth ₹40 lakh for withdrawing from the case.
It was on February 22, 2018 that Madhu from Chindakki tribal hamlet near Mukkali, Attappady, was killed after he was caught, tied, and beaten up by a group of local people alleging regular theft. The incident gained wider publicity as it was projected as the lynching of a tribesman.
However, the trial could not begin for four years and four months for various reasons, including the refusal of the government special prosecutors to take up the case. Three prosecutors were appointed, but none took up the case.
When Madhu’s family, supported by some rights organisations, raised a banner of protest, the government appointed C. Rajendran as special public prosecutor. However, when the first two witnesses turned hostile soon after the trial began on June 8 this year, Madhu’s family approached the High Court seeking that the trial should be stopped and Mr. Rajendran should be replaced.
The government, acting in accordance with a High Court directive, replaced Mr. Rajendran with his deputy Rajesh M. Menon.