The Kerala High Court on Tuesday granted bail to 31 out of the 33 accused in a case related to alleged provocative slogans raised by a boy during a march organised by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in coastal Alappuzha district in May this year. Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas said that while the allegations against the accused were serious in nature, they all have been in jail for more than 30 days, the investigation was complete as far as they were concerned and therefore, their continued detention would not serve any further purpose, even though two co-accused still remain at large.
"In such circumstances, I am inclined to allow these bail applications," the judge said. The court granted them bail subject to each of them furnishing a bail bond of Rs 50,000 with two solvent sureties of the like amount.
It also directed them to appear before the investigating officer every alternate Saturdays between 9 am and 11 am, not intimidate or attempt to influence the witnesses, nor tamper with the evidence, not commit any other similar offences while on bail and not to leave Kerala without permission of the jurisdictional court. The prosecution had opposed the bail pleas saying that the accused attempted to disrupt the harmony in the state and releasing them on bail would prejudice the investigation.
The accused had contended that they had been in custody for more than 30 days and that the slogans were being misinterpreted for ulterior purposes and no offence was made out. In the FIR filed based on a complaint by Vijayakumar P K, police invoked various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Kerala Police Act against the accused.
A short video of a boy sitting on the shoulder of a person during the "Save the Republic" rally held by the PFI in Alappuzha on May 21 and raising allegedly provocative slogans had gone viral on social media. Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 505 (1)(b) (act against the public tranquility), 505(1)(c), 505(2) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and 120(o) of KP Act are included in the FIR.