Bail granted to four accused in Muttil tree felling case

Police failed to submit charge-sheet even after 60 days of arrest: court

The First Class Judicial Magistrate at Sulthan Bathery in the district on Thursday granted bail to the accused in the Muttil tree felling case.

The court granted the bail to Anto Augustine, Josekutty Augustine, Roji Augustine, and their aide Vineesh, in four cases registered by the police in connection with the massive felling of rosewood trees.

The court granted the bail on the ground that the police had failed to submit the charge-sheet even after 60 days of their arrest.

The petitioners have been in custody since their arrest on July 28.

The Forest department officials have also registered cases against the accused in connection with the incident.

The prosecution case was that the accused had illegally and deceitfully cut 204.635 cubic metres of rosewood trees worth ₹8 crore from the assigned land in Muttil South in Wayanad without the permission of the Revenue Department. A special team of police officials, led by V.V. Benny, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sulthan Bathery, was constituted for the investigation.

But Mr. Benny was recently transferred to Tirur in Malappuram district. Meanwhile, two forest officials, who had been suspended by D.K. Vinod Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, northern circle, Kannur, following a probe into the issue, were reinstated by the department on the day. V.S. Vinesh, section forest officer and E.P. Sreejith, beat forest officer of the South Wayanad forest division were suspended in connection with the incident. The duo were suspended after it was found that the officials were on duty at the forest checkpost at Lakkidi on the district border on February 3, 2021, but failed to discharge their duties by permitting the vehicle to cross the checkpost without any inspection.

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