KPCC chief K Sudhakaran seeks anticipatory bail in financial fraud case involving conman Monson Mavunkal

While the Congress terms it a political vendetta on the part of the Kerala government, it is turning into a deciding factor for Sudhakaran.

ByK A Shaji

Published Jun 15, 2023 | 11:18 PMUpdatedJun 15, 2023 | 11:19 PM


Arrested almost two years ago on charges that he cheated many people by presiding over a sensational fake antique racket scam, Kochi-based conman Monson Mavunkal is back in public focus as the deciding factor on the political future of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran.

Sudhakaran, a Congress strongman from North Kerala who represents the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency, claimed repeatedly that he met Mavunkal on seven different occasions to treat his skin disease, believing in the latter’s claimed capabilities as a dermatologist.

Even after that, the crime branch police under the state’s LDF government has just named him as the second accused in a cheating case allegedly orchestrated by the fake antique dealer.


Conman Monson Mavunkal. (Supplied)

The crime branch is preparing for Sudhakarn’s arrest by claiming that he accepted ₹10 lakh from Mavunkal to help cheat a set of people who “financed” Mavunkal to “recover” a huge amount “frozen” by the Union government after coming to know about a huge antique transaction involving “UAE’s royal family”.

While the Congress and its alliance partners in Kerala have been claiming the move was part of a political witch hunt to divert attention away from the numerous allegations of financial mismanagement faced by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and many other ruling-front leaders, Sudhakaran on Thursday, 15 June, approached the Kerala High Court seeking protection from arrest.

Sudhakaran, who was directed earlier to appear before the Crime Branch on the same day, said in his anticipatory bail plea that he apprehended arrest, which was why he could not turn up before the investigating agency on the stipulated date.

The KPCC chief said that he had “prearranged meetings and consultations” on the said date, and thus had submitted a request for another date for his appearance.

Also read: Books by political rivals return Oommen Chandy to spotlight

‘No allegations or accusations’

In the plea filed through senior advocate and Congress MLA Mathew A Kuzhalnadan, Sudhakaran contended that the case in question was registered in September 2021, and there were no allegations or accusations against him in the FIR.


K Sudhakaran is flanked by UDF convener MM Hassan, Opposition Leader VD Satheesan, and AICC general secretary KC Venugopal at a KPCC meeting (Supplied).

“It is pertinent to state that after more than 19 months of registering the case, the personal appearance of the petitioner (Sudhakaran) is sought based on a suspicion that the petitioner is allegedly involved in the crime,” the plea said.

The Congress MP claimed in his plea that prima facie, the notice issued to him to present himself before the Crime Branch appeared to have been for extraneous reasons and political compulsions best known to the police authorities.

He further said that the notice was issued under Section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code, which gives the police powers to arrest a person irrespective of whether they comply with the notice.

Under judicial custody since his arrest in September 2021, 53-year-old Mavunkal pretended to be a multi-talented personality, playing roles such as a public speaker, doctor, cosmetologist, art promoter, and antique collector.

His ability to sell an ordinary walking cane as the Staff of Moses and small earthen pots made on the outskirts of Kochi as Lord Krishna’s favourite “dahi handi” are now becoming part of contemporary folklore.

The quack-cum-antique dealer even sold a decorated chair as the throne of Tipu Sultan.

Also read: Why is Kerala discussing a steel chair?

‘Consulted for skin disease’

Sudhakaran has vehemently tried to assert that he consulted Mavunkal for his skin diseases on the advice of a common friend, and no financial dealings occurred between them.

If the court denies him bail and the crime branch arrests him, they would have strong ramifications in Kerala politics.

While Crime Branch officials claim they have solid evidence to prove the involvement of Sudhakaran in the financial fraud, the CPI(M) leadership feels his arrest would turn advantageous for it in the fast-approaching Lok Sabha election.

The ruling dispensation in the state also hopes the action against Sudhakaran would help it counter the mounting Opposition resistance against most of the programmes and policies of the Vijayan government effectively.

Fear of Congress

On the other hand, the Congress and its alliance partners in the UDF fear that an arrest of Sudhakaran in such a case would weaken their strong build-up against Vijayan, who is also facing similar allegations.


Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan interacts with police officers. (South First)

Though powerful Congress groups supporting senior leaders Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala were upset over the unilateral decisions of Sudhakaran in appointing block-level presidents for the party, the move to arrest the KPCC president forced them to bury the hatchet and stand with him.

The Congress has created a facade of unity supporting Sudhakaran and Opposition leader VD Satheesan, against whom a case was registered last week accusing financial mismanagement in a house construction project for flood victims using contributions from Non-Resident Keralites.

Investigations are against Satheesan for illegally collecting foreign funds despite the opposition leader declaring that he accepts the challenge and is ready to face the investigation.

In the case involving Sudhakaran, Mavunkal is the first accused.

Also read: Kerala court issues summons to Kochi hospital and doctors

The case

Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police G Lakshman and retired deputy inspector general S Surendran are arraigned as the third and fourth accused.

Complainants in the case are Kozhikode natives Yakub Purayil, Siddique Purayil, Anoop V Ahmmed, Salim Edathil, AT Shameer and Shanimon.

They allege that Mavunkal convinced them that the Union government had withheld the ₹2.62 lakh crore he raised by selling antiques to members of a royal family in the UAE.

Mavunkal, they alleged, took ₹10 crore from them on the pretext of eliminating the hindrances in withdrawing his money from the bank.

Though he demanded ₹25 lakh more, they rejected his demand, the complainants said.

They further alleged that Sudhakaran, who was present with Mavunkal, assured them that he would clear the hurdles in withdrawing the money by exerting his power as a member of the Permanent Committee on Finance of Parliament.

Based on his assurance, the complainants reportedly gave Mavunkal ₹25 lakh. They also alleged that Sudhakaran took ₹10 lakh from the total amount.

The complainants told the Crime Branch they were convinced that Mavunkal lied to them about the ₹2.62 lakh crore caught in a legal tangle. Based on their assertion, the Crime Branch registered the case.

ED initiates investigation

Adding to the worries of Sudhakaran, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Union government has also started proceedings to investigate the case.

The only solace for him is the statement by Mavunkal that the KPCC president was not involved in any such deal.


Sashi Tharoor, centre, with fellow Congress MPs from Kerala at a reception to Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala (KA Shaji/South First)

“I have already made it clear that I have absolutely no role in this cheating case involving Monson. I am sticking to that same stand,” Sudhakaran said when contacted by South First.

He accused the chief minister of trying to silence the Opposition by trapping Satheesan and him in cases.

“The other day, Satheesan was booked in a case. And now it’s me. If Vijayan is under the assumption that he can scare us into silence with such cases, I can only say he is living in a fool’s paradise,” Sudhakaran said.

Sudhakaran asked why two police officers had been booked while a former director-general of police seen at Mavunkal’s home was spared.

While he didn’t take names, Sudhakaran was referring to former DGP Loknath Behera, now in a post-retirement assignment as managing director of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd.