SC Junks Kerala Govt Appeal to Withdraw Vandalism Case Against 6 LDF MLAs
In 2015, the CPI and CPI(M) had protested against the budget presentation in an Assembly session, creating chaos.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 28 July, rejected the Kerala government's plea seeking the withdrawal of cases of vandalism against six prominent CPI and CPI (Marxist) leaders.
"The action of the members have trodden past the constitutional means," the Supreme Court observed, dismissing the special leave petition filed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, LiveLaw reported.
In March 2015, the CPI and CPI(M), which had been the Opposition at that time, had vehemently protested against the budget presentation by former Finance Minister late KM Mani during an Assembly session, over allegations of corruption that had been levelled against the minister. The resulting pandemonium has led to a destruction of public property in the Assembly.
What Happened During the Hearing?
The Kerala government, represented by the Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar, argued that the actions of the legislators were protected by legislative privileges provided under Article 112 of the Constitution.
There cannot be no criminal prosecution for to acts done within the House, and that only the speaker of the house has the authority to take action in such matters, Kumar had argued, LiveLaw reported.
Supreme Court Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, who heard the case on Wednesday, said that “committing destruction of property cannot be equated to freedom of speech in the House,” LiveLaw reported.
They ruled that the six Left Democratic Front (LDF) MLAs must face prosecution under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act for their defilement of public property as a means of protest.
"The purpose of bestowing privileges on legislators is to enable them to perform their legislative functions without hindrance or without fear or favour. They are not a mark of status which keep legislators on an unequal pedestal."The Supreme Court said, LiveLaw reported
The LDF government had submitted an application to the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvananthapuram and subsequently also to the Kerala High Court, seeking the withdrawal of the charges against the legislators. When the application was dismissed, the state had moved the Supreme Court through a special leave petition, as per a TNM report.
The accused in the case are V Sivankutty, currently the Education Minister of Kerala, former ministers KT Jaleel and EP Jayarajan, as well as LDF members K Kunhammed, K Ajith, and CK Sahadevan.
(With inputs from The News Minute and LiveLaw)
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