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HC rejects plea to defer palm-chopping case trial

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday turned down the pleas of two accused for deferring the second phase of trial in the palm-chopping case scheduled before the Ernakulam NIA Special Court.

The right palm of T.J. Joseph, then a teacher at Newman College, Thodupuzha, was chopped off by assailants on July 4, 2010 when he was returning home from church with his family.

He was attacked for allegedly preparing a question paper for the second-semester BCom examination which contained a reference to Prophet Mohammed.

Of the 51 accused in the case, 45 had been chargesheeted by the NIA. As many as 31 persons were put on trial and 13 were convicted in 2015.

The Bench comprising Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Ziyad Rahman A.A. passed the order while dismissing an appeal filed by the accused, Sajil of Muvattupuzha and M.K. Noushad from Aluva, challenging an order of the NIA Special Court, Ernakulam, declining to postpone the trial.

The petitioners sought to defer the trial in view of the pandemic situation.

Counsel for the NIA submitted that preparations had been made by the court to proceed with the trial, observing the pandemic protocol. In fact, only two of the accused were now in custody and the others were on bail who could appear through videoconferencing.

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