Kerala HC Allows CBI Probe Into ‘Periya’ Political Murders; State’s Communist Government Attempted To Stall It 

Kerala HC Allows CBI Probe Into ‘Periya’ Political Murders; State’s Communist Government Attempted To Stall It 

by M R Subramani - Aug 26, 2020 03:06 PM +05:30 IST
Kerala HC Allows CBI Probe Into  ‘Periya’ Political Murders; State’s Communist Government Attempted To Stall It Kerala High Court (Twitter)
  • The development is a blow to the CPM government in the State since it had engaged a high-profile lawyer from New Delhi for this case.

    The case relates to the murder of two Congress workers, allegedly by CPM goons.

Yesterday (25 August), the Kerala High Court upheld the ruling of a single judge of the court ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the murder of two Congress workers from Kasaragod district in February last year.

The ruling ends the attempts of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in the State, led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, to stall a CBI probe into the murder of two youth by a group of persons at Periya village in the district.

On 30 September last year, Justice B Sudheendra Kumar of the High Court ordered the CBI probe in the case, better known as the “Periya murder case”, as he found fault with the investigating officer not recording the evidence properly.

The judge also found fault with the special investigation team (SIT) which probed the case, saying its investigations cannot lead to a fair trial.

He also quashed the charge sheet filed by the SIT.

A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar, dismissed a petition from the Kerala government against the single judge ruling ordering a CBI probe.

The development is a blow to the CPM government in the State since it had engaged a high-profile lawyer from New Delhi for this case.

The CBI, which had been waiting in the wings in view of the State government’s petition pending in the High Court, will now take over the investigations.

In a gruesome incident on 17 February last year, two Congress youth workers, Sarath Lal and his friend K Kripesh, were murdered by a group of persons at Periya village in Kerala’s Kasaragod district.

22-year-old Kripesh and 24-year-old Sarath Lal were attacked and left with bleeding injuries by their assailants.

Kripesh died on the way to Kasaragod General Hospital and Sarath Lal breathed his last while being shifted to a private hospital in Mangaluru.

On 19 February, a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI(M)) activist, A Peethambaram, was arrested by the Kerala police in connection with the incident.

Political vendetta was reported to be the reason for the attack on the two Youth Congress activists.

Peethambaram was injured in a scuffle with the two youth and he allegedly avenged it by murdering them.

The scuffle was a sequel to a long-standing rivalry between the CPM and the Congress, which is strong in the region where the incident took place.

The Kerala government asked SIT of the Kerala Crime Branch police to probe the case and it filed cases against 11 persons for the murders.

However, the investigations and chargesheet filed by the SIT left the parents of both the victims unhappy.

They, then, moved the Kerala High Court.

One of the reasons for the parents to petition the High Court was that the SIT treated the political murders casually and seemed to have had no intention to get those involved in the crime punished.

The parents argued that their children‘s murder could not have been organised and executed by CPM workers without assistance from senior leaders in the party.

Since the murdered youth belonged to the Congress, they argued that the CPM itself might be involved.

The parents also pointed out that top leaders of the CPM in the area had reached the spot immediately after the crime and took the accused to the party office.

Most of those accused in the charge sheet were CPM members and hence, there was reasonable suspicion of the party’s involvement, the parents argued.

Justice Kumar, in particular, found fault with the investigating officer for not properly recording the views of the forensic surgeon, Dr K Gopalakrishna Pillai, who performed the autopsy on the bodies of Kripesh and Sarath Lal.

Pillai said the injuries caused on the deceased could not have been caused by the iron pipes.

Police did not show weapons recovered from the accused to the surgeon, despite possessing them, while seeking his opinion.

Police reported that the victims were murdered using iron pipes and swords.

The objects were reportedly recovered from the accused.

Justice Kumar said the police seemed to have simply gone by the confession of the prime accused in filing the chargesheet.

He agreed with the parents of the murdered youth that chances for conviction of the accused going by the chargesheet were bleak.

The SIT was also pulled up for failing to recover anything from three of the key accused.

The chargesheet was filed without recovering any incriminating material against the three, Justice Kumar observed.

Police did not even recover the clothes worn by the accused during the attack.

There were contrasting statements on this, with the chargesheet saying one of the accused had confessed to burning his clothes, while the prosecution argued that no such statement had been made in this regard.

Seven of the prime accused in the case were arrested only after they surrendered before the investigating officer.

This, according to Justice Kumar, affected the credibility of the investigation.

Also, one of the witnesses said he had seen five persons travel in a convoy but the SIT did not name four of them as accused.

The investigating officer gave the excuse to the court that the witness can not be fully trusted, making Justice Kumar wonder how the officer could even make such a statement.

He even said that the investigations in the case were a ‘sham’.

Justice Kumar also said he had strong reservations on the impartiality and fairness of the investigation by the Kerala police due to political fallout.

The High Court found out that the submitted materials were sufficient to prove that no fair investigation had taken place and hence, it said it was allowing the CBI to take over the probe.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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