The Special Additional Sessions Court (Marad Cases) trying the murder of Revolutionary Marxist Party leader T.P. Chandrasekharan on Wednesday acquitted 20 of the 56 accused of the charges, including two leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and an office-bearer of the Students Federation of India (SFI).
Among those acquitted are Karayi Rajan (26th accused), member, Kannur district secretariat, CPI(M); E.M. Shaji (23rd accused), secretary of the Kallamala West branch, CPI(M); and Sarin Sasi (56th accused), Kannur district president, SFI.
The case pertains to a seven-member gang, allegedly hired by the CPI(M), hacking Chandrasekharan to death at Vallikkad, near Onchiyam, on May 4, 2012.
Judge R. Narayana Pisharadi acquitted them of the charges under Section 232 (if, after taking the evidence for the prosecution, examining the accused and hearing the prosecution and the defence on the point, the judge considers that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence, the judge shall record an order of acquittal) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).
Last week, the court had heard the arguments of special prosecutors C.K. Sreedharan and P. Kumarankutty and defence counsel K. Gopalakrishna Kurup in this regard. The defence counsel had then argued that there was either no evidence or feeble evidence against 24 accused in the case.
They had been made accused based on the police investigation and mahasars prepared by the investigators.
Even those prosecution witnesses who had given statement under Section 164 (recording of confessions and statements) of the Cr.PC had turned hostile in the case.
All those who have been acquitted on Wednesday were charged either with Section 118 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life) or Section 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) or Section 212 ( harbouring offender) of the Indian Penal Code.
Earlier, the court, before framing the charge sheet in December 2012, had discharged Kariyath Valsan (54th accused) and K. Madanan (61st accused) as there were no sufficient materials to proceed against them. Kariyath Valsan is the secretary of the Mozhakunnu local committee of the CPI(M) and Madanan, a party worker.
Initially, the special police team that probed the case had submitted a list of 76 accused in the case.
C.H. Askokan, former secretary, Onchiyam area committee, CPI(M), who was named 9th accused, died during trial. Two others are absconding. Besides, the Kerala High Court in January stayed the trial proceedings against 15 other accused.