The Kerala High Court has issued directions to the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Amani, Lakshadweep, for the release of island residents who were detained by the administration in connection with protests against the proposed controversial regulations that includes a ban on beef, disqualification of panchayat poll aspirants who have more than two children, and introduction of an Anti-Goonda Act.
Without entering into the merits of the case, Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath said, “The most important concern for us is the liberty of the persons who are in custody. They shall not be deprived of the means of access to justice.”
The writ petition filed before the court contended that although the offences invoked against the detained protesters are bailable, the Executive Magistrate remanded them for no reason. The counsel appearing for Lakshadweep submitted that the Station House Officer and the Executive Magistrate were prepared to release them on bail but they refused to get released on bail. This was denied by the petitioner’s counsel, Advocate R. Rohith, who alleged that no such attempt was made either by the Executive Magistrate or the Station House Officer.
The Bench took up the case of protesters on June 1 and observed, “It is appropriate in such circumstance to direct the CJM, Amini, to take up the case of the persons, who have been in custody pursuant to registration of the case by SHO of Kilthan Island by 3pm today. The physical production of the persons in custody is not necessary. The fourth and fifth respondent are directed to take steps for the production of accused persons before the CJM through video conference.”
Further, the High Court also said that the Chief Judicial Magistrate can hold sessions through video conference through the nearest National Informatics Centre or by using any other convenient mode like Google Meet, WhatsApp video call etc. “The CJM can order release of such persons on execution of self-bond or on conditions he deems fit to impose”, said the Bench.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Praful Khoda Patel has suggested some draft rules, which includes some proposals that would give him powers to remove or relocate islanders from their own property for town planning or development. The rules also allow some businesses to sell alcohol, which is seen as offending religious sentiments of the islanders and ignoring the socio-cultural context of the area.
The matter will be heard today, on June 2.
The order may be read here: