KOCHI: In a significant move, the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court has changed the jurisdiction of Justice Devan Ramachandran. Cases pertaining to police protection and police harassment have been shifted to Justice Anu Sivaraman, who will be hearing these cases after Christmas vacation. The order regarding the new sitting arrangement was issued on December 22 and will come into effect on January 3 when the court opens after Christmas vacation.
According to the new arrangement, Justice Devan Ramachandran will consider matters regarding admiralty suits, arbitration requests, land laws, Stamp Act, Registration Act, Survey and Boundaries Act etc. Sources said the roster regarding the arrangement of sitting in the High Court is a routine procedure, with the Chief Justice deciding on the allotment of subjects. The move comes at a time when Justice Devan Ramachandran has been unwavering in his stand against police brutality and violation of fundamental rights.
Considering a petition filed by the former driver of self-styled antique dealer Monson Mavunkal alleging police harassment, he criticised the police and questioned the visit of senior police officers — former police chief Loknath Behera and ADGP Manoj Abraham to Monson’s house. “The concern of the court is that there cannot be any cover up. To that extent, the court will be watching the probe,” he had said.
He observed the humiliation of an eight-year-old girl by Pink Police at Attingal in Thiruvananthapuram as “khaki ego” and “arrogance”, and ordered a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh. “We cannot let our daughters grow in anger. No one can dispute that her right to lead a dignified and full life was violated,” he said in his judgement.
Hearing a case of police brutality, in which a man belonging to a Scheduled Caste was handcuffed to the handrail of a police station for asking for a receipt of a complaint, he observed that brutality in police stations will stop if functional CCTV cameras are installed on the premises, particularly in cells. “Aren’t you ashamed to say that a man walked into a police station and used force to obstruct an officer from discharging his duties. It is very unfortunate that a citizen was chained to the railing and slapped with an offence under section 117 (e). This kind of conduct occurred in the 18th century dungeons,” he said.
Giving a call to ban ‘nokkukooli’ or gawking charges, he observed that “it is an unintended by-product of a well-intended legislation”. Expressing his objection to the practice of workers carrying load on their heads, he termed it “dehumanising work”. “You are enforcing a primitive situation,” he said.
He called upon the state to ameliorate the plight of headload workers. Justice Devan Ramachandran issued repeated orders directing district collectors to remove flag posts erected by political parties illegally on the roadside.