Ruckus in Assembly: Kerala moves SC against HC order rejecting plea for withdrawal of case

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New Delhi, Jun 26 (PTI) The Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court challenging a high court order dismissing its plea seeking withdrawal of a criminal case registered in connection with the ruckus inside the state Assembly in 2015 during the previous Congress-led UDF rule.

The plea against the March 12 order of the Kerala High Court is scheduled to be taken up for hearing by a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud on June 29.

The state assembly had witnessed unprecedented scenes on March 13, 2015 as LDF members, then in opposition, tried to prevent then finance minister K M Mani, who was facing allegations in the bar bribery scam, from presenting the state budget.

Besides flinging the speaker's chair from the podium, electronic equipment like computers, keyboards and mikes on the desk of the presiding officer were also allegedly damaged by the LDF members.

The case, which also involves V Sivankutty who is a minister in the state, was registered against a group of then LDF MLAs and others.

In its plea filed in the apex court, the Kerala government has claimed the high court had failed to appreciate that the alleged incident had occurred while the Assembly was in session and no crime could have been registered 'without previous sanction' of the speaker.

'The FIR registered by the secretary Legislative Assembly without the consent of the speaker is wrong and therefore, the application filed under section 321 CrPC is liable to be allowed,' said the plea filed through advocate G Prakash.

Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) deals with withdrawal from prosecution.

The plea has sought a stay on the March 12 order of the high court and also on further proceedings in the case, which is pending before a trial court.

It said because the act of the accused persons being in relation to their function to protest as members of the legislative assembly, the MLAs, who are accused in the FIR, were entitled to get protection under the Constitution.

It said that Article 105(3), 194(3) of the Constitution of India confers certain privileges and immunities to the members of Parliament and state legislature and therefore, it was not proper for the secretary of the Legislative Assembly to file cases against MLAs with regard to an incident which happened on the floor of House during the protest made by opposition members, that too, without the consent of the speaker.

'The allegation in the present case has admittedly happened during the budget session of the Legislature as a part of the protest by opposition members of Legislative Assembly against the budget presentation by the then finance minister due to the then prevailing political reasons,' it said.

The state government had moved the high court against an order of the trial court which had dismissed an application filed by the public prosecutor seeking permission to withdraw from prosecution against the accused in the case.

In its plea filed in the top court, the state has said there was no evidence to show that the application submitted by the public prosecutor was 'not in good faith'.

It said the court should not have refused permission under section 321 of the CrPC to withdraw prosecution in the case.

The case was registered for the alleged offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 447 (criminal trespass), and under the provision of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. PTI ABA MNL SJK AAR

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