New Delhi [India], July 28 (ANI): The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Kerala Government seeking a direction to withdraw cases against prominent Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders for alleged vandalism in the Kerala State Assembly in 2015 when the current ruling party in the state was in opposition at the time of the incident.
A two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Chandrahud and comprising Justice M R Shah in its judgement said that "there is no immunity/privilege that protects legislators from criminal law."
"There is no merit in the Kerala government's appeal, and the appeal stands dismissed," Justice Dr Dhananjaya Chandrachud, leading the bench of the Supreme Court, said.
The bench of the apex court had reserved the verdict on July 15.
While dismissing the appeal, Justice Dr Chandrachud observed, "The Acts of vandalism does not serve public function or come under freedom of speech".
The apex court said that the withdrawal of cases against the accused persons will be against public justice and policy.
"Vandalism and destruction inside the house is not essential for exercising legislative function," the apex court said.
It further said that the trial court was correct in rejecting the application to withdraw the FIR.
Justice Chandrachud in the judgement also said that the members possess the privilege that is essential for exercising public functions.
He added that the privileges of MLA bear a functional relationship to the discharge of functions of the legislators, but it is not a mark of difference that places the legislators on a pedestal.
The privileges and immunity are not a mark of status which makes them stand on an unequal footing, the Supreme Court said in its judgement.
Senior lawyer and former Solicitor General (SG) Ranjeet Kumar, appearing for the left party, had argued before the Supreme Court that the then government was presenting the budget. There were some protests and both party members protested and a woman member was hurt.
"Legislative Secretary filed an FIR against our (Left) party members," Kumar had said,
The members of the ruling party were equally at fault. It was a fight between two parties, Kumar had told the Supreme Court and sought a direction to withdraw cases against prominent CPI(M) leaders for alleged vandalism in the Kerala state Assembly in 2015,
To this, Justice Chandrachud asked Kumar whether it is in the interest of justice to throw things and damage material at the sanctum sanctorum of a democratic set-up.
The apex court had in one of its hearings expressed concern over the MPs and MLAs not properly maintaining the decorum of houses and observed that a strong message needs to be sent out and such behaviour could not be tolerated.
"Strong message needs to be sent out and such behaviour could not be tolerated," the apex court had said, during the course of one of its hearings.
The petition was filed before the Supreme Court against a March 12, 2021 order of the Kerala High Court.
The Kerala High Court had rejected the State's petition challenging the dismissal by the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court seeking permission to withdraw prosecution against the accused persons, including certain sitting ministers. (ANI)