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Madhu mob lynching case: Court finds 14 out of 16 accused guilty

The case pertains to the lynching of a tribal youth at Attappady in Kerala

madhu-tribal-youth-beaten-to-death Screengrab from the video and selfie taken by an accused in the Madhu mob lynching case | via Malayala Manorama

A Scheduled Caste and Tribe Special Court in Kerala on Tuesday held guilty 14 out of the 16 accused in the infamous Attappady Madhu mob lynching case. The case pertains to the lynching of a 27-year-old tribal youth, Madhu, in the Attappady area of Kerala.

The case is that a group of men captured Madhu from a cave in the buffer zone area of the forest near Attapady on February 2018, after accusing him of stealing rice from a nearby grocery shop. The group then brutally assaulted him before handing him over to the Agali Police.

However, on the way to the police station, Madhu collapsed. Though the police rushed him to the Government Tribal Specialty Hospital nearby, he died in the police jeep. 

Ubaid, who was part of the mob and later became the eighth accused in the case, shot videos and selfies with the mob assaulting Madhu as the backdrop and spread them on social media.

The five-year-old case created a huge uproar and came to the verdict stage after many twists and turns. The accused in the case were arrested on February 24, 2018. The 3,000-page chargesheet was filed by the police in May 2018 and it named 16 people as accused.

However, multiple factors delayed the judicial process. While the absence of a permanent judge in the Mannarkkad special court during the initial phase was a hindrance, the case also saw the resignation of multiple Special Public Prosecutors (SPP).  

The first special public prosecutor in the case was advocate P. Gopinath. He quit alleging that he was not provided with an office or accommodation. Later V.T. Raghunath was appointed, but he too left the post, citing health issues. Following this, senior lawyer C. Rajendran was appointed as the SPP along with Rajesh Menon as the additional SPP. 

However, Madhu’s family later approached the DG prosecutions demanding the removal of Rajendran and the appointment of Rajesh Menon as the SPP. This led to the resignation of C. Rajendran in June 2022.  

All the accused were granted bail by the High Court in May 2018. There were also alleged attempts by the accused to sabotage the case by trying to influence and threaten Madhu’s family. 

The trial proceedings finally started at Mannarkkad court on February 18, 2022. However, multiple prosecution witnesses turned hostile during the course. It was alleged that the accused contacted the witnesses over the phone and won them over. 

In June, Madhu’s family demanded that the case trial be stopped. Incidentally, the High Court stayed the trial till June 28. It was during this time that Rajendran resigned from the SPP post. 

On June 25, the government appointed Menon as the SPP as per the family's request. However, even as the trial resumed, the 12th witness Anil Kumar, a forest watcher, defected. During the trial period in July-August, many other witnesses too turned hostile.

In August 2022, the special court cancelled the bail of the 12th accused citing a bid to influence the witnesses. The Kerala High Court later confirmed the order cancelling bail of the 11 accused. On July 8, one of the accused, Abbas, along with another person, "criminally trespassed" into the house of Madhu’s mother and threatened her. Abbas’s bail plea was later dismissed by the court. 

The examination of prosecution witnesses got completed on January 12, 2023, and the final hearing in the case began on February 21, 2023. 


The special court found Thavalam Pakkulam Mecheryil Hussain, the first accused, guilty under section 304—Punishment for Culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The court acquitted accused No 4, Anish, and accused no 11, Abdul Kareem, as the prosecution could not prove the charges against them. Accused No 16 was found guilty under section 352, which is the punishment for assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation. Three months of imprisonment or a fine or both is the maximum punishment in this section. 

Rest all 12 accused were found guilty under part 2 of IPC 304, IPC Section 326, Section 367 and also under Section 3(1)(d) of the SC-ST (prevention of atrocities) Act of 1989. 

The prosecution failed to get IPC section 302—punishment for murder—applied against the convicts. "This case was started with direct evidence. However, in the later state, the prosecution had only circumstantial evidence," the SPP told the media after the verdict. 

Though the majority of the accused were found guilty in the case, the questions it raised on the requirement of speedy justice and the system's inefficiencies to protect the vulnerable and marginalised sections remain.

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