Wearing khaki does not mean you can speak against court, says HC; raps police for seeking to close plea against Mavunkal

  • | Thursday | 2nd December, 2021

Kochi, Dec 2 (PTI) Outraged by Kerala Police filing an application to close a pending petition against self-styled antiques dealer Monson Mavunkal and the "accusations" against the judge hearing the matter contained in the affidavit accompanying the plea, the High Court here said wearing the khaki does not mean one can say anything against the judiciary. The high court said the contents of the affidavit were "extremely disconcerting" and "an attempt to browbeat" the court into backing off. Justice Devan Ramachandran dismissed the application and also considered imposing costs on the police officer who had filed the affidavit containing accusations against him and the court, but refrained from doing so on the request by the Director General of Prosecution. "Suffice to say the interim application (IA) of this nature -- which in my view is intended to browbeat the court and force a particular result -- should not have been advised or attempted and more so never pressed with the vehemence as exhibited today at the bar with the Director General of Prosecution praying that the writ petition be closed today," the judge said. The application was filed in a plea by Mavunkal"s former driver-cum-mechanic -- Ajith E V -- alleging harassment by his former employer and some police officers close to him. Ajith, represented by advocates Philip T Varghese and Thomas T Varghese, had alleged that the harassment started after he made certain disclosures to police in connection with a cheating case against the self-styled antiques dealer. The court said that till now it had thought the investigation was going well and therefore, was going to close the petition after taking on record the reply filed by the Enforcement Directorate, but the affidavit "changes everything". "I was going to close the matter today, but now I think there is something more than what meets the eye," the judge said. The court expressed its displeasure after perusing the affidavit filed by the head of the Crime Branch, which is investigating the cases against Mavunkal, in support of the application, "ascribing motives" to the judge of surprising the police with material from the public domain. Justice Ramachandran said the affidavit accused him of forcing the police to produce documents and "breaching confidentiality". "If you wear khaki, it does not mean you can speak anything against the court. They (police) should know where they stand in protocol," the judge added. The court noted that the tenor of the averments in the affidavit by a senior police officer was "overbearing and recriminatory", adopted an "unmistakable condescending tone" with regard to judicial orders and observations, was "disturbing" and contained "misdirecting asseverations". "In your (police) affidavit you have ascribed motives to me. You are accusing me of everything. It is a great strategy to accuse a judge. You are accusing me of surprising you with things in the public domain. Where have I done that? I mentioned things in the public domain which you admitted in your statement. "If a police officer can accuse the court and get away with it, it is a dark time for us. Where have I forced you to produce documents or breached confidentiality? How can you accuse me of this? This affidavit is intended to provoke and browbeat me. Do you think I will be scared and will back off? This is extremely disconcerting," Justice Ramachandran said. The judge further said, "How dare a police officer come here and make accusations against the court in a veiled manner to close the case? He has the temerity to say I breached confidentiality. Basically you are asking me to close my eyes, shut my ears and shut my mouth. How can he dictate to me to close the petition?" "You are trying to win by accusing the court. There is a charge against the institution of justice. Do not accuse the court, you will not get anywhere," he added. During the more than an hour long hearing, the judge said that in his over 31 year long career as a lawyer and then a judge he has never seen an application being moved by a respondent, here the police, to close a petition when even the pleadings were not complete in it. The court was also displeased with the averments in the affidavit against the central government counsel appearing for the ED for the lawyer"s suggestion that CBI may have to step in to probe the other allegations or offences against Mavunkal. "They were scared that I would order a CBI probe. They think they know my mind? How dare they think that? Why is the state treating it as a Centre-state fight or state-court fight? Why should he (officer) be so febrile that he should file such an affidavit? I don"t think a police officer should feel he is above lawyers. "The police officer should not make such averments against the lawyers of this court. I will not allow anyone to attack lawyers like this. If he (officer) thinks he can get away with it, he has to be shown his place," the judge said. The court also noted that the averments in the affidavit were "sarcastic" and asked "is he (officer) trying to make fun of the court?" The state government had recently filed a statement saying that bringing an outside agency to probe the various complaints against Mavunkal, as suggested by ED, when Kerala Police was conducting an investigation from all angles, amounts to interfering with the federal system of the Constitution. Cherthala native Mavunkal, who claims to be in possession of rare and historic antiques, was arrested by the district Crime Branch which has been investigating a cheating case of Rs 10 crore from different people. Mavunkal had apparently borrowed the amount from various people saying he was in need of funds to "clear procedures to obtain Rs 2,65,000 crore, a massive amount from his account in a foreign bank." Many photos of the accused with KPCC chief Sudhakaran, senior IPS officials, senior bureaucrats and many others were telecast in the mainstream media. PTI HMP BN BN

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