Decided on January 15,1968

A.K.GOPALAN Respondents


- (1.) What may be called the ruling political parties of this State, headed by the Left Communist Party, called what they called a Kerala Bandh for the 11th of September last in pursuance of a policy of mass agitation against the Central Government. All normal business, whether public or private, was to be suspended throughout the State the State Government declared that day a public holiday. The Bandh was opposed by the political parties not in office, principally by the Congress and the Jan Sangh; and, in the midst of all this, one apprehends that the common man (of common sense and common sensibility), whose name was, of course, freely invoked by both sides, only wished to be left alone to go about his lawful business. The result was that there were clashes in various parts of the State between those who, whether by force or show of force or mere sweet reasonableness, wished to ensure observance of the Bandh and those who, in like or unlike measure, resisted their "persuasion". In the course of such a clash on the morning of the 11th in the village of Kuttoor, near Cannanore, two Left Communist workers Karunakaran and Kunhikannan by name suffered stab injuries to which the former succumbed that night at the Government Hospital, Cannanore. The first information regarding this was recorded at the hospital the same night by a Head Constable of the Cannanore Town Police Station from one Kunhikannan probably not the injured Kunhikannan, but that is not clear and a case was registered on that information against one Sali, a brother of the petitioner herein under S.302 of the Indian Penal Code. The case was transferred to the Peringome Police Station within the limits of which the occurrence took place, and Ext. P2 is a copy of the FIR. recorded at that police station. It would appear from the remand report, Ext. P3, that another case was registered against Sali under S.324 IPC. in respect of the injuries sustained by Kunhikannan. Also against the petitioner and another brother of his, Ali by name, with having abetted Sali in the commission of both the offences, namely, the murder of Karunakaran and the causing of hurt to Kunhikannan. These three accused persons, Sali, Ali and the petitioner, were arrested by the police on the 23rd September at the Government Hospital, cannanore, where as inpatients for injuries sustained by them, and, on the following day they were remanded to police custody by the Sub Magistrate, Cannanore, until their discharge from hospital or until the 7th October whichever was earlier.
(2.) The 1st respondents to this petition is a leader of the Left Communist Party and a Member of Parliament. The 2nd respondent is the Chief Editor and the 3rd respondent, the printer and publisher of the Deshabhimani, a Left Communist Malayalam daily having a fairly wide circulation in this State, especially in the Cannanore District. In the issue of that paper of the 25th September there appeared under the date line "Ernakulam, September 23", a report (Ext. P1) in Malayalam of a statement issued to the Press by the 1st respondent, according to him on the 20th September. The statement purported to be a review of the happenings throughout the State on the 11th September in connection with the Kerala Bandh the 1st , it said, had toured throughout the State to gather first hand information. Particular reference was made in the statement to the incident at Kuttoor in the following terms: "Tearful story It was the story of a young man who had to sacrifice his life to the naked goondasim of Congressmen, that was heard from the trembling lips of so many people in Kuttoor. Had this tragedy occurred in the course of a sadden fight one could have understood it. But what I was able to make out was that it was in prosecution of a deliberate conspiracy to commit murder. It appears that a prominent Congress leader of the Cannanore District had given instructions for this toe previous day. It was as a result of being pounced upon and stabbed while he was in a peaceful and disciplined manner calling for the observance of the Bandh by the closure of shops that comrade C. P. Karunakaran suffered martyrdom. Comrade Kunhikannan who was with him suffered serious injuries. The police have seized an unlicensed loaded gun and other weapons from the shop of a congressman at the scene of occurrence. Murder too was planned Is it not to be inferred from all this that there was a prearranged plan to commit murder The enlightened people of the locality are determined to press forward to the chosen destination of that class for whom Comrade Karunakaran has sacrificed his life."
(3.) According to the petitioner, this statement was a deliberate and distorted version of what actually happened, and was made with the avowed object of creating an impression among the public, and also on the authorities concerned, that the Incident that resulted in the death of Karunakaran was a premeditated, preplanned and cold blooded murder. By making and publishing the statement the respondents were trying to prejudice mankind, and in particular, persons likely to be called as witnesses in the case against the petitioner and his brothers, and thus, interfere with the course of justice.;

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