Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 18 January 2022 6.10 AM IST

There cannot be a cover up, HC tells govt regarding probe into Monson's activities; ED likely to launch probe


KOCHI: "There cannot be a cover up," Kerala High Court said to the state government on Thursday with regard to the ongoing investigation into self-styled antique dealer Monson Mavunkal's activities and his alleged links to senior police officers.

"The concern of the court is that there cannot be any cover up. To that extent, the court will be watching the investigation. I want a proper investigation. There should be no cover up," Justice Devan Ramachandran said.

The high court said that "prima facie there appears to be something much more than what meets the eye" and though an investigation was going on, the question was whether agencies from outside the state should also be brought in due to the allegations against senior police officials, one of whom according to news reports has been suspended.

It directed that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) be made a party in the matter after the state government said it was not opposed to the same. With this, the ED is likely to launch a probe into the benami-black money transactions of high officials.

The Director General of Prosecution, appearing for the state and the police, said he has not received any information regarding suspension of any officer, but he saw in news reports that Inspector General of Police (IG) G Lakshman has been suspended for allegedly aiding Mavunkal.

The court was hearing a plea by the antiques dealer's former driver-cum-mechanic alleging harassment by his former employer and some police officers close to him after he made certain disclosures to police in connection with a cheating case against Mavunkal.

The court, during the hearing, questioned the state police as to why no action was taken under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 against Mavunkal after former DGP Loknath Behera raised doubts regarding genuineness of the artistic treasures and antiques at the controversial antique dealer's house subsequent to his visit there.

"He (Mavunkal) was allowed to run free all this time and now you have POCSO and rape cases against him. Proper policing would have prevented this," Justice Devan Ramachandran said to the police.

The court said action under the Antiquities Act back in 2019 after Behera's visit to Mavunkal's house would have put a stop to his various allegedly illegal activities.

The court also noted that no action was taken against Mavunkal even after an intelligence report of January last year said that he was frequently going abroad for dealing in antiquities even though he had no licence for the same.

"These things certainly ought to have alerted the police. If it were some ordinary citizen, he would have been jailed long back. But he (Mavunkal) was allowed to run free and he even had access to the office of then State Police Chief (SPC)," the court observed.

In response to the court's query as to who invited Behera and Additional Director General of Police (HQ) Manoj Abraham to the house of Mavunkal, the state said that they were invited there by a woman -- Anitha Pullayil -- who claimed to be the Global Coordinator of the Women"s Wing of Pravasi Malayali Federation, an organisation which purportedly worked for the interests of Indians abroad.

The state also said that just because someone claimed to have antiques, action under the Antiquities Act cannot be taken as no one believed Mavunkal's claims.

The court, however, rejected this contention saying a responsible police officer should have taken action when someone was making such claims -- like possessing 'Tipu's throne' or 'Moses staff'.

It listed the matter on November 19, giving time to the petitioner to implead the ED as a party and for filing an additional affidavit.

The court had earlier also raised questions related to Mavunkal"s alleged links with senior police officials in the state.

State Police Chief Anil Kant had earlier filed an affidavit in court stating that former state police chief Behera's visit to Mavunkal's residence in May 2019 was "unscheduled" and purely out of interest to look at the items of historical importance that the latter claimed to possess and not to give him any undue mileage in society.

At the time Behera visited Mavunkal's residence on May 11, 2019, the latter was known in social media and the public as a doctor and philanthropist and there was no intelligence report available about the dubious nature of the articles in his house, the SPC had said in the affidavit.

The affidavit was filed in response to the high court's query to Kant on October 5 as to whether he trusts the police under his command to carry out a proper investigation into the complaints against Mavunkal when allegations are flying thick and high against police officers of various ranks in the state.

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