KOCHI: Even as protests are growing on the sweeping changes in Lakshadweep islands, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the order of Additional District Magistrate, Kavaratti, directing the Assistant Public Prosecutor at Amini Island, Lakshadweep, to “attend the Special Cell (Legal), Secretariat, Kavaratti, for completing urgent pending works until further orders.”
A Division Bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice MR Anitha directed the Administrator, Union Territory of Lakshadweep to ensure that the prosecutor should be posted in the island where the courts are functioning. The court issued the order on the petition filed by Muhammed Saleem KP, Andrott Island, Lakshadweep.
The Sub Judge on the island has informed the Bench that for the last two months prosecutors were deputed to the island in Kavaratti to carry out vetting of charges. Hence, there have been no cases posted for trial after the reopening of the courts.
"We are of the prima facie opinion that the prosecutors appointed for the functioning of the courts are to be posted in the islands where courts are functioning and if any vetting charges have to be made by them, it is for the administration to see that the documents are transmitted to them at the island where they are supposed to function as prosecutors. Hence, we stay the order," held the Bench.
When the case came up for hearing, the court asked the standing counsel for the UT administration, "Counsel, you know what is happening in the Lakshadweep, not about the newspapers report and all, on the judicial side I have warned you once as I am the judge in charge of the administration there."
R Rohith, counsel for the petitioner argued that the present order was rampant abuse of power and an absolute failure of the justice delivery system particularly in the criminal justice system of Lakshadweep. In Lakshadweep, courts are situated on three islands. The Magistrate Court is at Andrott, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court cum Assistant Session Court is at Amini and the District and Sessions Court is at Kavaratti.
The Union Territory of Lakshadweep does not have a regular cadre of prosecuting officers. The petitioner alleged that for the last four months no criminal trial is completed in Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Lakshadweep due to the absence of an Assistant Public Prosecutor in trial proceedings. Now the Assistant Sessions Court and Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Amini is unable to conduct criminal trials.
The action of the administration in giving less importance to the due process of the Judicial System in Lakshadweep cannot be tolerated. The Public Prosecutor is an officer of the Court and he is bound to assist the Court with his fairly considered view and the court is entitled to have the benefit of the fair exercise of his function. Therefore, the Lakshadweep Administration has to treat Assistant Public Prosecutors as independent officials and appoint them primarily to assist the courts, submitted the petitioner.