Saturday, October 22, 2016

Put and End to political murders in Kerala: Repeal/ Amend Article 161 of Constitution

Kerala state is once again witnessing a spree of political murders. Every other day a horrifying news and visuals comes out, about the death of yet another young man, hacked to death by rival political gang. What could be wrong? How come the perpetrator and committers of these gruesome murders get away without any fear of the Law?

Article 161 in The Constitution Of India 1949 which says about "the Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases The Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends"

The misuse of the said article is one the reasons for the perennial problem of political murders in the state.

Kerala is a state which is known for its literacy and human development index ,measuring up to to likes of US and European countries. But the state is also equally infamous for the gruesome political murders happening year and out. The T.P.Chandrasekharan murder, is a perfect example of a main stream political party recruiting professional killers to murder a popular leader who had deflected from the party and formed a new rebel group. Shri Chandrasekharan was hacked to death, in May 2012, his face suffering 51 gashes in man hunt. The judicial trials are over and 12 people had been found guilty and have been and sentenced to life imprisonment for the political murder. The police and prosecution are doing a reasonably good job in nabbing the culprits and bring them to books and proving their guilt. But that does not matter eventually.

Unfortunately these convicts who have a very active kind of political backing, do not have to worry about enduring a life sentence in the jails, because, as soon as the main stream political parties, either Left or Right, assumes office alternatively every five years, the criminals get acquitted by the misuse of Article 161 by the party in power . The political clout of the murderers is usually so intimidating that, unlike the usual convicts, they enjoy a VIP treatment in the jails, due to support of the highly partisan and polarized police force and the government servants of the state.

Why should the State Executive have a power to interfere and subvert the judgement of the Judiciary at all? What purpose does this serve the state in anyway other than sabotaging the rule of Law?

A similar case of mis-use of the article happened in the neighboring state of Tamilnadu, where the chief minister Shri M.Karunanidhi, during his previous tenure released 1451 convicts sentenced to life, on the eve of his birthday.

Another relevant blatant instance of misuse, is the release of the former Electricity Minister of Kerala, Mr.Balakrishan Pillai, before his term, who was sentenced for one whole year rigorous imprisonment by the verdict of Supreme Court of India in 2011, for conspiracy in the Edamalayar Hydro electric Project case. The former minister being the leader of a political party with just 2 MLAs, but crucial for the survival of the government, could get away with a lesser term in jail due to the intervention by the state government.

Thus it is a rude and terrible fact that political murders in Kerala are going to continue unabated as long as the state governments have the power to interfere with the tenure of convicts in jails. Certianly the situation could be more worse in the case of some of the other North East states also.

The Article 161 and hence the power of the State Governments in this regard has to be repealed with re-enactment so as to prevent the release of convicts before their term, as part of political agenda of the ruling party. I hope the law makers recognize this and make the necessary efforts to initiate a change.

This petition will be delivered to:

Honourable President of India
Shri Pranab Mukherjee
Honourable Chief Justice of India
Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur
Union Minister of Law and Justice
Shri Ravi Sankar Prasad

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