New Delhi, May 21 (ILNS): The Supreme Court bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai today allowed bail to Member of Parliament Kanumuri Raghurama Krishnam Raju, an YSR Congress leader in a sedition case. The bench has agreed to the claim that he was possibly ill-treated while in police custody.
The bench said that it was of the opinion that, as per the nature of the charges levelled, it was not “that custodial interrogation would be required.” The bench also took into account the health condition of the petitioner (he has had open heart surgery), and decided to grant bail.
The plea of Raju in court was to seek a fresh medical examination alleging that he was tortured in CID custody. The Court had directed to take him to the Army Hospital in Secunderabad for a fresh medical examination.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, along with advocate Adinarayana Rao argued for the petitioner.
Justice Saran (considering the report from the Army hospital): “The report says that there is fracture in toe of left foot.”
Rohatgi: “Therefore, my submission that he has been beaten up in the custody is proved. If they are doing this to a sitting MP, what will they do the other people?”
Justice Saran: “We are not concerned that he is an MP.”
Rohatgi: “My client should be given bail immediately.”
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave: “I want to argue the case on merits, notwithstanding the medical report. The injuries may be self inflicted also.”
Justice Saran: “So you are saying that these injuries are self inflicted injuries? He was arrested by the CID, then taken to Army Hospital and in between he injured himself?”
Dave: “I don’t know.”
Justice Saran: “The petitioner has been examined at two hospitals, one in Army Hospital and second in the Central Government hospital.”
Rohatgi: “It is absurd to say that someone, who is already in police custody, can cause such injuries to himself. (Then, reading the police report, says) This cannot be termed sedition. Trying to overthrow the government is sedition.” He then referred to the Kedarnath judgment, where the constitutional bench explained what sedition is – “calling people to arms to overthrow the government is sedition.”
Rohatgi: “My short analysis is that the ground for my arrest is completely bogus. There has been torture by the police, therefore petitioner should not be allowed to be with police for even one more day. The Court should take the suo motu notice of the injuries and direct the CBI to investigate and register a case against DGP and after investigation if found someone else is involved then it is a very serious case. Immediately the bail should be granted.”
Dave objected to the bail application and submitted that this should be cancelled on the ground that an efficacious remedy is available in law. The high court didn’t deal with this case on merits. “Article 136 is a discretionary remedy and this court shall not exercise when alternative remedy is available. In many sensitive cases this court has not intervened when alternative remedy was available. There were 11 grounds on which the charges were imposed and not even one charge can be disputed. Whether he is guilty of sedition or not it has to be dealt at appropriate stage before the trial court.”
“As a member of the party can you raise your voice against the CM? They are castigated remarks, to bring hatred against the community. His words carried weight and he followed by large number of people. He crossed limits. We have sent a senior police officer to check and he submitted a report. (Reading from report).
Justice Saran: “We don’t have those documents.”
Dave shows a video of Raju… “He was asked to travel in the ambulance, but he refused to travel in the ambulance and he went to hospital for examination in his own car, and while travelling he kept showing his foot to the public. The report does not show that the fracture was a old one or not the new one. If the police wanted to cause injuries then certainly they would have not cause injuries to the second finger of the toe.
“The police treat MPs with respect. As much as I want to say that there are no life threatening injuries… The army hospital report does not show that any substantial injury has been caused. Certainly a CBI inquiry cannot be called for an injury in second finger of the toe. Why doesn’t Mr Rohatgi say impose a Presidential order in the state. This is the problem. Because he is an MP, he thinks that he can take the law into his own hand.
“The petitioner was flaunting his foot while travelling to army hospital in his own car. Is this what the petitioner should do when he is in the protection of Supreme Court of India? This court can entertain these cases only in cases where grave injustice has been done. In the present case no injustice was done, forget grave.
“This cannot be done when a competent court is there. This court should not interfere. The high court order was only to move to a competent court and this court cannot be moved under article 136 against that. This the judgment of the constitutional court had this has been followed in the series of cases. The court has not heard what kind of utterance this person makes, “beat up the volunteers who are not giving vaccination”.
Justice Saran: “This appeal has been filed challenging the order of HC 15.5.2021 praying for relief under 437 under CRPC, for the offence of 124 A, 505 of IPC. The high court stated that we would not be inclined to entertain the petition because the petitioner can approach the trial court and apply for bail. And on the direction of the DG of CID an FIR was lodged on 14.5.2021 with the following allegation… Mr Rohatgi is appearing for the petitioner, and he contended that the CM has a grudge against the petitioner, therefore this case has been lodged against him.
“The counsel of the petitioner has submitted that petitioner has been tortured in the police custody. It has been contended that mere criticism of actions of the state cannot be classified as sedition to be punishable under 124A.
“The petitioner contended that magistrate vide order dated 14.5.2020 required the petitioner to be produced before the medical board. The petitioner was to be examined by the private hospital.
“On the same the pursuant to a letter addressed to the court by the senior counsel of the petitioner, the HC has treated the Habeas corpus on the said letter. and ordered examination by medical board head of doctor at Guntur. Pursuant thereto the medial board submitted its report on 16.05.2021, which has also been placed on record.
“This matter came up before the this court on 17.5.2021. After hearing both the parties this court passed the following directions;… in compliance of the said directions the medical report of the army hospital placed before us. The medical report has observed as under… after considering the report Ld Counsel MR Rohatgi has submitted that the petitioner has been tortured while he was in the custody. He submits that he has got fracture on his toe which makes him difficult to move, he submitted that he subjected to the torture during police custody.
“Dave has further submitted as regards to the report of the army hospital which is different from the Medical board report. Mr Dave has correctly submitted that reports are not different. According to Dave, both the reports are honest. According to Dave such speech as given by the Petitioner amounts to sedition. They incite hatred and violence among the community. He further submitted that this court should not grant bail to the petitioner. The facts has emerged that FIR was lodged after the due inquiry by the CID. The jurisdiction of the High Court and Trial Court is concurrent under section 437CrPC. The High Court should have considered the matter on merits and then passed its order.
“In a view considering the injuries in report of the army hospital we have formed an opinion that petitioner was ill treated in the police custody. The charges on the petitioner are not such that police custody is required and the FIR has been lodged after due inquiry of the State CID. All the material is available with the CID. Considering the health position of petitioner which has not denied by the respondent, the petitioner be enlarged on bail on the following conditions:
- the petitioner will co operate with the investigation.
- the petitioner shall be given 24 hours of notice to interrogate.
- the interrogation shall be conducted in the front of an advocate.
- the petitioner shall not be allowed to give interview related to this matter.
- he shall not influence any witnesses.
- the petitioner shall furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh and provide 2 sureties of like amount with the trial court within 1 week.
Justice Vineet Saran also said: “The petitioner should not show his injuries to the press, otherwise we will take it very seriously.” ILNS\KR\SJ