A Kerala court on Wednesday dismissed the discharge petitions filed by the Education Minister V Sivankutty and five others in the notorious Assembly ruckus case which attracted public attention in 2015.
The other accused were opposition MLAs during the incident, namely E P Jayarajan, KT Jaleel, K Ajith, C.K Sadasivan and K Kunhammed. Both Sivankutty and Jaleel are currently members of the State Legislative Assembly. These members of CPI(M) were booked for creating a ruckus in the House while the budget was presented.
Dismissing the petitions, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvananthapuram directed the accused to appear before it to frame charges on November 22nd.
The State had earlier admitted before the Courts that it had suffered a loss of around ₹2.20 lakh as the MLAs climbed over the Speaker's dais on March 13, 2015 and damaged his chair, computer, mike, and emergency lamp in an attempt to prevent Finance Minister K.M. Mani from presenting the annual Budget.
Interestingly, a petition was filed thereafter by the State government seeking withdrawal of the case registered under sections 447 (criminal trespass), 427 (mischief causing damage), read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and Sec 3(1) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
In September 2020, the trial court had rejected the State's plea to withdraw a case related to the assembly ruckus matter on the ground that allowing such withdrawal would send a wrong message to society. This position was confirmed by the High Court.
Subsequently, on July 28th this year, the Supreme Court dismissed the State's plea for withdrawal of the case against the six LDF leaders, saying "privileges and immunity are not a gateway to claim exemption from criminal law and that would be a betrayal to the citizens".
The Apex Court had also said that committing acts of destruction of public property cannot be equated with either freedom of speech in the legislature or with forms of protest legitimately available to the members of the Opposition.
The ruckus happened in March 2015, while the CPI(M) members were protesting against the then UDF government over the bar bribery allegations against the then Finance Minister KM Mani, who was trying to present the budget speech.