Two men, accused of attacking activist Bindhu Ammini with a chemical spray after her entry into Sabarimala, were granted pre-arrest bail by the Kerala High Court today. A bench headed by Justice B Sudheendra Kumar found the allegations against RSS-BJP workers Pratheesh Viswanath and CC Rajagopal to be 'tainted with malafides', reports Live Law.
The attack took place outside the office of Ernakulam City Commissioner in 2018 when Bindhu Ammini came there seeking police protection. She had been receiving a lot of threats following her visit to the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala in 2018, after it had newly opened doors to women of all ages, following a Supreme Court verdict. There was however a lot of opposition from right wing parties against the entry of women of menstrual age between 10 and 50, who were earlier not allowed in the temple.
Bindhu Ammini had alleged that five people including the two appellants Pratheesh and Rajagopal approached her chanting Ayyappa hymns and one of them sprayed the substance on her face. She also said that they, "touched her body in the presence of the public and humiliated her by calling her urban naxal." Pratheesh and Rajagopal are the second and third accused in the case.
However, the court, after checking the statements of the witnesses and the complainant and an audio visual recording, said that no case was discovered from the material against these two appellants.
"Even though the victim had stated that the appellants along with the first accused came near the victim chanting Ayyappa hymn and at that time, the first accused applied some chemical spray on the face and body of the victim, none of the witnesses so far questioned by the investigating officer stated about the presence of the first accused with the appellants at any point of time,” said the court. “The audio-visual compact disc produced along with the case diary also does not support the allegation of the victim that the appellants came near to the victim along with the first accused.”
The court pointed out that Rajagopal was a candidate in the upcoming Assembly elections and Pratheesh is a practising advocate. "Both the appellants are admittedly public figures. Even then, the appellants could not be identified by the victim for a long period," the court noted.
The court also added that the entry of women activists was a controversial issue and while the Kerala government was on one side, the RSS-BJP supporters were on the other. "The RSS/BJP and many Hindu organisations protested against the entry of activist women to Sabarimala Temple. However, the Government of Kerala supported the entry of activist women to Sabarimala Temple,” said the court. “It is admitted that the victim is an activist and not a devotee. The appellants are admittedly supporters of RSS/BJP. The argument of the learned counsel for the appellants that the allegations against the appellants are malafide, will be considered by this Court in the light of the above facts."