HC grants bail to Youth Cong workers who protested against Kerala CM on aircraft

The Kerala High Court on Thursday granted bail to two Youth Congress workers, who protested against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on board an aircraft after it landed at Thiruvananthapuram airport, saying their further custodial interrogation was not required.

Justice Viju Abraham also granted anticipatory bail to the third accused in the case and directed him to surrender before the investigating officer (IO) on June 28 for interrogation and to cooperate with the probe. The first two accused — Furseen Majeed and R K Naveen — who were arrested on June 14 and in the custody of the investigating agency till date were ordered to be released on bail by the court subject to the conditions that each of them would furnish a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount.

The other conditions imposed on them were that they shall appear before the IO as and when required, shall cooperate with the investigation, shall not intimidate witnesses and shall surrender their passports, if they have it. The third accused — Sujith Narayanan — was granted anticipatory bail subject to the same conditions as imposed on the other two as the high court was of the opinion that his custodial interrogation was not required.

The court further said that if the third accused was arrested by the police, he would be produced before the jurisdictional court and released on bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount. The court, while granting the relief to Majeed and Naveen, observed that the report of the Airport Manager to the Station House Officer, Valiyathura Police Station, which is first in point of time, “only says that they were informed that an alleged altercation took place on board the flight between three passengers”.

“A subsequent report by the Airport Manager dated June 14, 2022 also revealed that after landing as soon as seat belt sign went off, the said passengers immediately stood up from their respective seats and rushed toward the Chief Minister, shouting slogans in the vernacular language and upon seeing this one of the passengers travelling with the Chief Minister intervened,” the high court noted.

“Considering the nature of the allegations I feel that further custodial interrogation of the petitioners (Mujeed and Naveen) is not necessary…,” Justice Abraham said in his order allowing the bail plea of the two accused.

While allowing Narayanan’s anticipatory bail plea, Justice Abraham referred to the Airport Manager’s reports and said that while the other two were arrested, there was no attempt to arrest the third accused and he left the aircraft like any other passenger.

“Insofar as there is no case that the motive for the alleged incident is of any personal enmity and it was a part of an agitation, there is no reason to believe that the petitioner (Narayanan) will repeat the alleged offence.

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“As regards the contention of the Director General of Prosecution that custodial interrogation of the petitioner is required to unravel the larger conspiracy, I am not persuaded to think that custodial interrogation of the petitioner is required for that purpose,” the judge said.

He also noted that none of the three were carrying any weapons and the motive behind the alleged incident was not personal enmity. The prosecution had opposed the pleas of all three accused alleging that on June 13 evening when the CM’s flight from Kannur landed at Thiruvananthapuram, the trio defied directions of aircraft crew, shouted threats at Vijayan, rushed towards him and attempted to murder him.

The prosecution also claimed that three accused caused hurt to the CM’s security officer and deterred him from discharging his duty. Narayanan in his plea had claimed that when the two Youth Congress workers, also known to him, shouted political slogans against the CM, LDF convenor E P Jayarajan pushed them back with force and they fell to the floor of the aircraft.

He had also claimed that he had left the airport premises and met his relatives in a hospital and thereafter, he returned to Kannur by train on the same day and was not involved in any way with the alleged incident. He said that he was falsely implicated in the case to prevent him from becoming a witness to the incident and speaking about the “brutal assault committed by E P Jayarajan on the two persons, which he recorded in his mobile phone”.

The other two accused in their joint plea had claimed that the allegations against them were false as they had only raised slogans as part of a peaceful protest urging the resignation of the CM. They had also claimed that “by no stretch of imagination, mere raising of slogans can be portrayed as an attempt to kill the CM”.

Vijayan has been facing protests by the Congress and BJP workers ever since Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling through diplomatic bags case, alleged that he and his family members had a role in some smuggling activities. Her charges were termed baseless by the CM.

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