Top Story SC grants interim bail to two Septuagenarian convicted for...

SC grants interim bail to two Septuagenarian convicted for life imprisonment

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New Delhi, May 8 (ILNS): The Supreme Court has granted interim bail for six-month to two Septuagenarian convicted  under Sections 302 (punishment for murder) IPC read with 149 IPC and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

The Apex court bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari has noted that Appellant No. 8 namely, Ram Lal Rai has died during the pendency of this appeal. It is further submitted that Appellant Nos. 3 & 6 namely, Meetaram Rai and Ram Ekbal Rai respectively are both over 70 years of age.

On the previous hearing the Top Court had directed the State to verify the age of the said appellants. On May 7, the Counsel for the State submitted that Appellant No. 3 is 71 years of age and Appellant No. 6 is 72 years of age.

The learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the incident is of 1983 and the appellants are now aged persons. He also submitted that because of COVID, there are chances of the said appellants to be infected and they may be granted bail.

“Considering the facts and circumstances, Appellant Nos. 3 & 6 namely, Meetaram Rai and Ram Ekbal Rai respectively are granted interim bail for a period of six months,” said the Top Court in its order. 

The Supreme Court was hearing an appeal filed by 11 persons, challenging the order of the High Court, which had dismissed their applications against conviction of Life Imprisonment awarded by a Trial Court.

The appellants were mainly convicted and sentenced under Sections 302 (murder) IPC read with 149 IPC.

The Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari heard the plea in the matter of Mahendra Rai and Ors versus the State of Bihar, where Counsel and Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave apprised the court that the appellants, have undergone sentence from quite a period of time. 

The Bench had deferred the matter for May 7 tentatively and asked the respondent (state herein) to seek instructions about the conduct of the appellants in the jail.

There were three separate appeals filed before the High Court of Patna. The first one was filed by the state government against 11 accused, while second was preferred by 48 accused against the state, and third appeal was filed by accused Jagannath (Circle Officer). There are few among the 48 who have been died.

Dismissing all three appeals, the High Court also set aside the verdict of sentence passed by the Trial Court akin to three juveniles involved in the case and remitted them back to the Juvenile Justice board.

According to the complaint filed against the accused, on March 29, 1983, at about 1030 hrs, the deceased had gone to bring their pump set from western boring, where around 3-4 accused restrained them from bringing back the set. 

This led to a scuffle, which turned violent, with more people joining, armed with lathis, guns and knives. Some police officials also arrived at the scene, along with the Circle Officer. The CO snatched gun from one of the members of victim side and fired in air, to disperse the mob.

“The testimonies of doctors qua the prosecution witnesses are almost common and alike and it is unimpeachable in totality. All of them had opined that the ‘deceased died due to shock and hemorrhage as a result of ante mortem injuries’. These injuries were sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature, caused by ‘Farsa’, ‘Garasa’ and spade,” it said.

The Counsel for the appellant contended that they were not members of a mob, and participation of the appellants in the commission of the crime has not been established by the prosecution so far. 

In the State of Karnataka vs Chikkahottappa @ Varade Gowda and Ors, the Supreme Court held in Para 6, “Mere presence in an unlawful assembly cannot render a person liable unless there is a common object and he is actuated by that common object and that object is one of those set out in Section 141. Where common object of an unlawful assembly is not proved, the accused cannot be convicted with the help of Section 149.” 

“In absence of any specific evidence, as far as section 302 IPC is concerned in respect to 11 accused persons, the government appeal stands dismissed and since 11 accused persons have already been sentenced to undergo life imprisonment under Section 302 R/W 149 IPC,” said the Court.(ILNS)KR/KY

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