Woman moves Kerala HC for setting aside order acquitting ex-

A woman today moved the Kerala High Court seeking to set aside a lower court order, acquitting NCP MLA and former Kerala transport minister A K Saseendran of sexual harassment charges.

In her petition, Mahalakshmi alleged that Saseendran influenced the woman who levelled the sexual harassment charges and pressured her for settlement in the case in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court at Thiruvananthapuram.

Mahalakshmi alleged that the magistrate showed 'undue consideration' in disposing the case by advancing it out of turn by discharging the accused in a hurried manner.

The petition was filed even as the Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government decided to re-induct Saseendran in his cabinet tomorrow.

The magistrate court had acquitted Saseendran, holding that no case had been made out against him that warranted conviction.

The case, an off-shoot of a sleaze audio tape row involving Saseendran and the woman, had taken a new turn with the latter reversing her statement in court that he had misbehaved with her.

She had also stated during cross examination that she was not sure about whether the "person on the other side of the phone" was Saseendran.

A public interest litigation was filed in the same court on the day of the verdict, stating that the woman journalist might have reversed her statement due to "fear" and that the proceedings should not be closed.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate had rejected the plea, stating that it was a matter between the two persons and a third person cannot interfere.

The case was registered against Saseendran after the woman filed a complaint, in which she stated that he had misbehaved with her when she met him for an interview at his office.

Saseendran resigned as minister in March 2017 and Thomas Chandy, the other MLA of the party, replaced him as the transport minister.

However, Chandy also had to resign in November 2017 after allegations of land encroachment surfaced against him.

The NCP state leadership had then decided that whoever comes clean of charges first would become minister again.

Saseendran ran into trouble after a Malayalam TV channel aired a purported sleaze audio of him in conversation with a woman, who was later identified as the petitioner journalist.

The channel had later tendered an apology, admitting that it had conducted a "sting operation" involving one of its woman journalists and not a housewife, as claimed earlier.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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