The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed police protection for controversial 'antique' dealer Monson Mavunkal's former driver who has alleged intimidation and harassment from his ex-employer and certain police officers close to him. In his petition, filed through advocates Philip T Varghese and Thomas T Varghese, the driver — Ajith E V — has alleged that Monson Mavunkal threatened to implicate him in criminal cases and get him put behind bars. Ajith, who was Mavunkal's driver-cum-mechanic from 2009 till January this year, has further alleged that after he made the disclosures against Monson in August this year, the Circle Inspector of Cherthala and the Station House Officer of Ernakulam Town North Police Station both summoned him to their offices the same day and threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to appear before them.
The driver in his petition, alleged that he had informed the District Police Chief of Alappuzha and the Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam about the alleged harassment, but no action has been taken till date on the same and the CI and SHO are allegedly still continuing with their intimidatory tactics.
Ajith has said that the disclosures he made to the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Alappuzha, were in connection with a cheating complaint made against Monson Mavunkal by Rajendran Pillai of Sreevalsam Group of Companies alleging that he cheated him of Rs 6 crore. Soon after he gave his statement, Mavunkal came to know about it and called him up and threatened him with dire consequences, the petition has said. The petitioner has also alleged in his plea that Monson Mavunkal has made false representations about himself and his business to various persons and collected money from them.
Cherthala native Mavunkal, who claimed to be in possession of "rare and historic antiques", was arrested by the district Crime Branch which has been probing complaints against the dealer of having swindled Rs 10 crore from several people. This is excluding the Rs 6 crore cheating case filed by the Sreevalsam Group.
Justice Devan Ramachandran while granting police protection to petitioner-driver allowed him to implead the State Police Chief in the matter in view of the serious allegations in the petition against some police officers and also in view of the allegations against Mavunkal having "acquired a new colour". "When this petition was filed in August no one knew about the fifth respondent (Mavunkal). Now the world knows about him," the High Court said.
It further said, "Thankfully it (allegations against police officers) is only regarding Kochi and not Thiruvananthapuram." The High Court was of the view that assistance of the State Police Chief would be required for properly adjudicating the matter and allowed the petitioner to make the top cop in the state a party in the matter.
"This Writ Petition was filed on August 11, 2021 but in the last few days the allegations of the petitioner have certainly acquired a new colour. I am, therefore, certain that the assertions of the petitioner will require to be closely looked into by the competent police authorities, including the State Police Chief, particularly because investigation is stated to be proceeding against the 5th respondent (Mavunkal) on various grievous allegations. I, therefore, permit the petitioner to implead the State Police Chief in the party array, for which purpose, this matter will stand adjourned to October 5, 2021," the judge said.
He further said, "In the meanwhile, the 1st respondent (Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam) will ensure that the life of the petitioner is protected adequately and that necessary enquiries are commenced." The petitioner-driver, in his plea, claimed that after he made certain disclosures before the police in connection with a cheating case against Mavunkal, the latter through some officers close to him has been allegedly harassing him.
Meanwhile, a district court in Ernakulam extended Monson's Crime Branch custody by another three days. He was produced before the lower court as his three-day custody granted to the crime branch was expiring on Thursday.
Amidst these developments, senior Congress leader V M Sudheeran on Thursday demanded a probe by the CBI into the alleged fraudulent activities of the self-styled antique dealer, claiming that the crime branch investigation in the case was inadequate as he was an "extraordinary criminal" who enjoys good rapport with high level personalities in the society.