With the Supreme Court on Wednesday, dismissing the plea of the Kerala government to withdraw the cases against the CPI-M leaders, including state Education Minister V. Sivankutty, for vandalism in the state Assembly in 2015, all eyes are now on Pinarayi Vijayan whether he will remove him or continue in the cabinet.
The Kerala Congress-led opposition demanded his resignation at the earliest.
The apex court ruled that all accused have to face trial leaving Sivankutty’s fate hanging in balance.
Reacting to the SC judgment, Sivankutty, who is recuperating at his house from fever, said he accepts the apex court’s verdict and ruled out his resignation.
“The court has only looked into the petition of the Kerala government to withdraw the petition and it has not happened. We will abide by the apex court verdict and will face the trial in the lower court and prove our innocence,” said Sivankutty.
Speaking to the media, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, flanked by other leaders of the opposition, said Sivankutty has to quit at the earliest in the wake of the verdict of the apex court.
“It’s highly unethical and immoral for a State Minister to sit in the chair of the Minister when he has been asked to face trial in a ‘criminal’ case. The apex court has made very grave observations in this case and it’s quite natural that any criminal act done inside or outside the Assembly is a criminal offence and there is no privilege for it. Sivankutty has to resign immediately,” said Satheesan.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Thiruvananthapuram and the Kerala High Court had earlier rejected the withdrawal application. As a result, the Kerala government moved to the top court and failed to get a verdict in its favour.
The Kerala High Court, in an order passed on March 12 this year had refused to give its nod, saying that the elected representatives are expected to uphold the prestige of the House or face consequences.
The vandalism took place on March 13, 2015 when erstwhile State Finance Minister K.M. Mani was presenting the state Budget for the new fiscal.
The then CPI-M-led opposition had taken a strong stand that Mani, who was accused of taking a bribe of Rs one crore from a bar owner for reopening closed down bars, would not be allowed to present the Budget.
When Mani began his speech, the Left legislators went berserk, throwing out the Speaker’s chair from the dais and also damaging the electronic equipment on his table.
After the incident, the then Speaker N. Sakthan asked for a Crime Branch police probe.
The list of the other accused includes former State Minister E.P. Jayarajan.
The others include K. Kunju Ahamed, C.K. Sadasivan, and K. Ajith, who are now no longer legislators, while K.T. Jaleel, the former Higher Education Minister is a legislator now.
Since 2020, the late K.M. Mani’s party- Kerala Congress (M), now led by his son Jose K. Mani moved out from the Congress-led UDF and is presently the third biggest ally of the Vijayan government and has been given a cabinet berth.