The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the state police chief why protection was provided to fake antique dealer Monson Mavunkal, who was arrested last week on charges of multiple cheating cases.
This came on a day the government told the assembly that the then DGP Loknath Behera, shortly after a visit to Monson’s residence in 2019, had sought an intelligence report on him. Based on the report, he had written to Enforcement Directorate in February 2020, seeking a probe into his sources of income, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly.
Hearing a petition filed by Ajith, a former driver of the accused, the bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran asked current DGP Anil Kant to furnish a report on why Monson was given police protection and why no action was taken against him for illegal possession of several articles, including elephant tusks.
The judge asked, “Instead of taking action against him, police provided him protection, on what basis.’’
The court said it wanted the police to inform whether an investigation would be appropriate by an agency in Kerala when allegations have come up against police officers of various ranks. Referring to the ongoing crime branch probe, the court observed, “Can the crime branch really conduct a proper investigation. The police chief should tell the court if he trusts the police command under him to conduct a proper probe.”
Ajith had moved the court alleging police harassment after he disclosed Monson’s alleged murky dealings.
Meanwhile, the Opposition on Tuesday issued a notice for adjournment motion in the Assembly on the issue. Replying to the notice, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said eight cases have been registered so far against Monson.
Referring to the visit of officials, politicians and celebrities to Monson’s “museum”, where he allegedly kept fake antiques, Vijayan said it was common for people to visit a place where antiquities are believed to be kept. “I will not go into the details now. It is up to the police to find out who went and why,” he said.
Revealing that DGP Behera had written to the ED seeking a probe into Monson’s sources of income, he said, “This makes it clear that the police have gone into further investigation.”
However, Opposition MLA P T Thomas, who moved the notice, said the police did not act against Monson even after the 2019 intelligence report that he was a fraudster. “Instead, DGP Behera provided police protection for Monson and instructed that his house be patrolled four times a day.” Thomas said.