The Kerala government has cancelled an order reinstating a police officer who was suspended for alleged lapses that led to the killing of a Dalit Christian man last year, PTI reported on Friday. The order reinstating MS Shibu, issued earlier this week, was cancelled by the home department on Thursday on the instructions of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Shibu was the former station house officer at the Gandhi Nagar police station in Kottayam district. He was accused of delaying an investigation into the complaint filed by the family of Kevin Joseph, who was found dead at a canal near Thenmala in Kollam district on May 28, 2018, The News Minute reported.

Kochi Range Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakhare issued Shibu a termination notice in February. However, he was reinstated as a sub-inspector in Kottayam district on May 27. Two days later, he was transferred to Idukki district, and demoted to the level of the most junior officer.

On Thursday, the additional chief secretary of the state issued an order that read: “Changing the decision to terminate MS Shibu and reinstating back to service by downgrading him in the seniority list is not compatible with the grave fault he made in discharging duties. As per the rule, the state government has reviewed the order of Kochi Range IG to reinstate him and he remains suspended from service.”

The case so far

In November, a Kerala court described Shibu’s death as a case of “honour killing”. The court also directed the police to complete the trial within six months.

Kevin Joseph was found dead just three days after he married Neenu, who is from an elite Christian family. The police arrested the his wife’s father, brother and three other relatives. In all, the police charged 14 people with murder.

The prosecution argued that Joseph was murdered because of his marriage to Neenu. The defence counsel, however, argued that the case cannot be treated as one of “honour killing” since both parties were Christians.

“Honour killings” are murders committed when someone is perceived to have brought “dishonour” upon a family, usually by being in a relationship with or marrying someone from a different caste or religion.