The Kerala High Court has directed the State Police Chief and DGP of Kerala to personally review the progress of the investigation into the murder of RSS swayamsevak Sanjith in Palakkad last year. The Court has also directed the State Police Chief to file fortnightly reports to the Court until all the accused are arrested.
“…the second respondent is directed to personally review the progress in apprehending the remaining accused and will file fortnightly reports to this Court till the last accused is arrested”, Justice K. Haripal has directed.
Though the order was passed on May 5, it was made available on May 9. The order was passed in a plea by the deceased’s wife seeking a CBI inquiry into the murder, involving the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its political wing, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). The Court has declined to transfer the investigation to the CBI from the state police. While declining the plea for CBI inquiry, the Court noted that though the SDPI and PFI are extremist organisations indulging in violence, they are not banned organisations.
“No doubt, SDPI and PFI are extremist organisations indulging in serious acts of violence. All the same, those are not banned organisations”, the Court held. Sanjith was murdered on November 15, 2021, while he was travelling on a bike along with his wife. He was hacked to death in front of his wife.
Senior Counsel S. Sreekumar appeared for the petitioner, while Senior Advocate Gracious Kuriakose, the Additional Director General of Prosecution, appeared for the state. The Court noted that accused Nos. 8 to 11 and 15 to 19 are yet to be arrested, out of the 20 accused in the cases. Accused Nos. 1 to 5, who committed the murder, have been arrested. The sixth accused, the main conspirator, and the first accused have also been arrested. The state submitted before the Court that though the names of SDPI and PFI were not disclosed in the first information statement and were not incorporated in the FIR, the subsequent reports indicate their roles. It was also submitted that there is no evidence to establish the role of other leaders of the SDPI and PFI of the State or other States. The Court noted that the police had brought out the involvement of SDPI/PFI in the previous attack against the deceased though the deceased did not reveal the involvement of any extremist organisation. If the previous case of the Petitioner, the wife of the deceased, was properly investigated, the murder would not have taken place.
The Court noted that the police acted with the determination that the culprits should not get default bail. “All the prime accused are arrested and the Ext.P4 final report was laid well within the statutory period which prevented the accused from getting default bail. There are reasons to believe that investigating agency had acted promptly with a determination that the culprits should not get default bail.”
The Court held that merely because the accused are activists of the SDPI/PFI, the investigation cannot be handed over to the CBI. The Court also held that the investigating agency does not appear to have any special interest in the case or is shielding the culprits. “Moreover, allegation that investigation was conducted in a most ineffective and defective manner etc. are lacking particulars. Only vague and sweeping contentions have been raised on the score”, the Court held while noting that there is no allegation that the police have acted in a biased manner.
While dismissing the plea for CBI inquiry, the Court observed that though, as per the prosecution, the accused who are yet to be arrested have played less important roles in the crime, they have to be arrested and brought before the Court. The Court posted the matter to May 30 for the report of the State Police Chief.