KSRTC driver-Mayor row: Offences listed in FIR could invite 2 to 7 years of imprisonment

MLA Sachin Dev and Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Arya Rajendran; Screen grab of mayor arguing with driver. Photos: Manorama News

Thiruvananthapuram: The police have started recording statements in the case against Thiruvananthapuram Mayor Arya Rajendran and Balussery MLA Sachin Dev, prompting speculation about their potential arrest.

The investigating team will first take statements from the complainant, KSRTC driver Yadhu, and the lawyer who filed a public interest litigation seeking legal action against the Mayor. Both individuals have been instructed to report to the Cantonment Station. Subsequently, statements from Arya and Sachin Dev will also be taken.

The investigation team is conducting a thorough inquiry into whether Sachin Dev forcefully boarded the bus. The FIR includes a grave accusation that the accused, being influential figures, exerted their influence to destroy the memory card in the bus's CCTV camera. Additionally, it alleges that the MLA resorted to hurling abusive language.

Despite facing serious charges, legal experts point out that the arrest of the Mayor and the MLA is not mandatory in this case. The non-bailable offence charged against them is under Section 353 of the IPC for obstructing a government servant from discharging their official duties. This section carries a jail term of up to two years.

Although the Mayor and others have been charged with a section punishable by up to seven years in jail for the destruction of evidence, it is a bailable section. However, if arrested, the trial should be taken to a sessions court. The penalty for causing public nuisance is only Rs 200. They will have to face up to one month in prison and a fine for illegal detention. If the offence is punished with a common intention, all five accused will face the same punishment.

Though a non-bailable offence has been charged against them, the Mayor and MLA can seek anticipatory bail. The government's stance will be crucial in this regard. Since the Mayor and MLA are the accused, if the government informs the court that it will cooperate with the investigation, then they will get anticipatory bail. The government is likely to take such a stance.

The Mayor and MLA will not have to appear in court for anticipatory bail. It is sufficient for a lawyer to appear for them. If anticipatory bail is granted, two sureties should be produced, and the judicial magistrate's court should effect bail.

What's next in the case?

  • The police will move to identify the passengers on the bus, record their statements, and make them witnesses. If they have videos or documents, it will be crucial.
  • The undisclosed statement of conductor Subin is also crucial.
  • Evidence should be collected along with the statements of the accused.
  • If the memory card is not found and there are no other documents and evidence, the police can file a report in court to write off the case.
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