Kerala Sept 14(ILNS): The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to ten CPI(M) workers allegedly involved in the Thalassery post-poll violence.
A Single Bench comprised of Justice K Haripal passed this order while hearing a Bail Application filed by Shinos KK.
The Petitioners/Accused who is involved in the case was registered of Chokli police station on April 07, 2021, alleging offense under Sections 143, 147, 148, 341, 323, 324, 326, 307 read with 149 of the Indian Penal Code and also under Sections 3 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act.
The crime had originated on the basis of the First Information Statement given by one Rafeeq, who is the uncle of the injured, Muhasin and Mansoor.
In the incident, the said Muhasin and Mansoor, who were brothers sustained grievous injuries. Later the said Mansoor succumbed to the injuries and thus offense under Section 302 of the IPC was also incorporated. During the course of the investigation, offenses under Sections 25(1)(B)(b) and 27(1) of the Arms Act were also added.
At the conclusion of the investigation, a charge sheet has been laid against 12 accused persons, including the petitioners. Before the arrest, the 2nd accused/Sangeeth committed suicide and the 7th accused/Bijesh is absconding.
The counsel for the petitioners submitted that on conclusion of the investigation, charge-sheet has already been laid on July 05, 2021, that the petitioners were arrested between April 07, 2021, and May 07, 2021, 8th petitioner/ Vipin had surrendered on April 16, 2021, that all recoveries have been affected and therefore, their further detention is not warranted.
According to the council, even though it was alleged in the First Information Statement that the injured and deceased were attacked using a sword etc., no such sword has come to the notice of the Investigating Officer, and the final report is laid as if they had attacked the injured and the deceased using a wooden stick, iron pipe, and bomb. According to him, the said Muhasin had sustained only minor injuries.
The council also submitted that material witnesses are the father, brother, and neighbors of the deceased and the injured and all of them are Muslim League activists whereas the petitioners/the accused belong to a rival political party, the CPI(M).
According to the council, even 10-year-old sessions cases are pending in the sessions division, and therefore, detaining the petitioners indefinitely in jail is not in the public interest.
The counsel for the additional third respondent strongly opposed the application. According to him, it was a pre-planned political murder committed by the activists of the ruling party, on the eve of the general election, on April 06, 2021. That day between 1.00 P.M. and 1.30 P.M., some political clashes had taken place, out of which Muhasin, the booth agent, was sought to be killed by the assailants. When he had moved on a motorcycle, he was intercepted by the mob, the accused persons, and hurled a bomb at him.
The allegations against the petitioners are very serious and there is reasonable apprehension that they would tamper with evidence. All the 10 eyewitnesses including three injured are neighbors. If the petitioners are released on bail, there may not be a free and fair trial due to the threats which would be made by the petitioners, who are highly influential.
After hearing counsel on both sides, this court called for a report from the Sessions Judge, Thalassery, on the total number of sessions cases pending in that Sessions division and also the number of murder cases where the custodial trial is going on.
The Court said that now it is very clear that the final report was laid on July 05, 2021. No doubt, the allegations against the accused are very grave. Still, so long as the final report is laid, it is not in the interest of justice, unless overwhelming reasons are made out, to keep the suspects in custody. The presumption of innocence is always the guiding factor for the Court. The accused can be detained in custody indefinitely only if very strong circumstances are made out.
The Court further said that,
Thalassery is a hub of political rivalry and clashes. A huge number of sessions cases are pending in the courts. In the circumstances, it is unlikely that the trial of the case will be able to be taken up in the near future. That would result in protraction of trial and indefinite detention of the petitioners in custody. Such pre-trial detention is not expedient nor in the public interest.
Moreover, we are still in the grip of the Covid pandemic. The Supreme Court has issued various guidelines for easing the crowd in prisons. It is the policy of Courts to ease overcrowding in prisons and therefore, that aspect also impels this Court to think of granting bail to the petitioner.
Added to this, it has come out that all the material witnesses are members or sympathizers of the Indian Union Muslim League, a rival political fraction of the accused. Normally, such witnesses are not susceptible to any kind of influence that might be exerted by the accused in the event of their release on bail.
On an overall consideration of these circumstances, the Court cannot ignore the well-known principle that bail is the rule and jail exception. I am of the view that the petitioners can be released on bail on stringent conditions, the Court observed.
The Court granted bail to the accused on the following conditions:-
i)The petitioners shall execute a bond for Rs.2,00,000/- (Rupees Two lakhs only) each with two solvent sureties each for the like sum to the satisfaction of the jurisdictional court;
ii) They shall surrender their passports within ten days from the date of release on bail before the trial court. If they do not possess a passport, an undertaking shall be filed to that effect;
iii) They shall not try to contact or influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence;
iv) They shall not involve in any crime during the bail period;
v) They shall not enter Kannur Revenue district until the examination of all material witnesses except for the purpose of attending courts;
vi) They shall appear before the Investigating Officer/trial court as and when required;
vii) The petitioners shall strictly follow the various guidelines issued by the State and Central Governments with respect to the keeping of social distancing in the wake of Covid 19 pandemic;
viii) If any of the above conditions are violated by the petitioners, the jurisdictional Court will be at liberty to cancel the bail in accordance with the law./ILNS/AP/SNG