Kerala HC directs KPCC chief Sudhakaran to appear before Crime Branch; orders he be released on bail if arrested

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed state Congress chief K Sudhakaran, facing a Crime Branch probe in a cheating case involving controversial antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, to appear before the agency on June 23.

Justice Justice Ziyad Rahman A A said that if Sudhakaran is arrested, he shall be released on bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the like amount.

“This order shall be in force for two weeks,” the court added.

It also directed the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president to cooperate with the investigation and not to attempt to intimidate or influence witnesses in the case.

The order came on the anticipatory bail plea filed by Sudhakaran who was recently asked to appear before the Crime Branch, which is probing the case.

In his anticipatory bail plea, the senior leader has stated that he apprehended arrest as he could not turn up before the investigating agency on June 14, the initial date given for his personal appearance.

The KPCC chief has said in his plea that he had “prearranged meetings and consultations” on that day and as a result he had submitted a request for another date for his personal appearance.

Sudhakaran, in the plea filed through advocate Mathew A Kuzhalnadan, has contended that the case in question was registered in September 2021 and there were no allegations or accusations against him in the FIR.

“It is pertinent to state that after more than 19 months of registering the crime, the personal appearance of the petitioner (Sudhakaran) is sought for based on a suspicion that the petitioner is allegedly involved in the crime,” he has said in his petition.

The Congress MP has claimed, in his plea, that prima facie the notice issued to him to be present in person before the Crime Branch “appears to have been for extraneous reasons and political compulsion best known to the police authorities”.

The allegations and claims made in the plea were refuted by the state on Wednesday during the brief hearing of the matter.

The Director General of Prosecution, representing the state, told the court that the investigation was being carried out in a fair and impartial manner.

He contended that despite “clinching evidence” against the KPCC chief, Sudhakaran has not yet been arrested and only a notice under Section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code was issued seeking his personal appearance.

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The senior official urged the court to direct Sudhakaran to cooperate with the investigation in the case.

During the hearing, Sudhakaran’s lawyer told the court that his client will appear before the Crime Branch on June 23 and cooperate with the investigation.

The Crime Branch had decided to interrogate the KPCC president on the basis of a statement by complainants, who lost their money in the cheating case, claiming they had handed over money to Mavunkal in the presence of Sudhakaran.

Earlier, the agency had submitted an additional report before the court here, arraigning Sudhakaran as an accused in the case.

When the allegations cropped up against him two years ago, Sudhakaran denied them.

The issue had snowballed into a political controversy as images of Mavunkal, along with Sudhakaran, emerged. Sudhakaran had said he had gone to Mavunkal’s residence for treatment, as the latter claimed to be a trained cosmetologist.

Mavunkal had allegedly made false representations about himself and his business to various people and collected money from them. Many images of Mavunkal with senior police officers and bureaucrats of the state have surfaced.

Cherthala native Mavunkal, who claims to be in possession of rare and historic antiques, was arrested by the Crime Branch in September 2021.

He is facing charges of having swindled Rs 10 crore from several people.

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