‘Under Pretext of Cow Slaughter, Police Officer Lynched’: Supreme Court Stays Bail Granted to Accused in Bulandshahr Violence

Team SoOLEGAL 4 Jan 2022 4:12pm

‘Under Pretext of Cow Slaughter, Police Officer Lynched’: Supreme Court Stays Bail Granted to Accused in Bulandshahr Violence

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the Allahabad High Court’s ruling awarding bail to one of the main defendants, Yogesh Raj, in the Bulandshahr mob violence case, which claimed the life of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh. Yogesh Raj was ordered by the court to surrender within seven days.

After hearing all parties and considering the gravity of the offense, the bench stayed his bail and ordered Yogesh Raj to surrender within 7 days.

“We have heard learned counsel for parties at some length. It appears that the chares have not been framed. There is no question of even examining the independent witnesses…The matter is quite serious where under the pretext of cow slaughter, a police officer has been lynched. Prima facie, it is a case of taking law into their – own hands. We are thus of the view that Yogesh Raj be asked to surrender within a period 7 days from today. To that extent the impugned orders granting bail are stayed.”

The bench added -
“We call for a report from the Trial Court as to how much time do they need to frame chares then to record the testimony of the independent witnesses.”

A panel of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh was hearing the pleas of Rajni Singh, the wife of the slain police officer, Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh. The cop who died had gone to crime site to enforce law and order and was finally killed by a violent crowd protesting the murder of a cow. The petitioner challenged the Allahabad High Court’s decision to give bail to Yogesh Raj, one of the major defendants and a strong local leader of the Bajrang Dal. In addition to the aforementioned petition filed by a co – accused whose bail had been denied by the High Court.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, standing on behalf of the petitioner, Rajni Singh, informed the Court about Yogesh Raj’s criminal history, despite the fact that he had filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that he had not violated any bail conditions.

“In the first matter Yogesh Raj who was the leader of the mob filed an affidavit saying that your lordships should not cancel bail, that he has not violated any of the conditions of the bail. To which I have filed a rejoinder pointing out that he contested elections when he threatened to murder somebody who had not voted for him.”

In response to his rejoinder, Mr. Hegde stated that a FIR was filed against Yogesh after he was released on bail for committing an offense punishable under Sections – 147, 148, 308, 352, 504, 506 of the IPC. According to the FIR, he and his goons attempted to murder a family for not voting in his favor in the Panchayat elections.

Mr. Hegde emphasized that, despite the fact that the lynching occurred over three years ago, charges have yet to be filed in violation of the Supreme Court’s instructions in Tehseen Poonawalla V. Union of India.

“Since, more than 3 years have passed since the incident; however charges are yet to be framed because of his influence. I have also enclosed the guidelines in Tehseen Poonawalla which cover incidents like this which call for speedy trials in the dedicated courts. The Pandemic may have come in between.”

Mr. Hegde’s major point is that the right to perusal liberty granted to everybody by the constitution is neither unregistered nor untamed. The right must be situated and assessed in the context of greater community demands for peace and orderly behavior.

Mr. Rohit Amit Sthalekar, Advocate – on – Record, representing for another accused (Lokendra) who had not been granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, stated at the beginning that a study of the charge sheet would show that the argument for criminal antecedent did not apply to him. He further claimed that Lokendra is disabled and that he was only incriminated based on the statements of two witnesses who claimed to have seen video footage of him fleeing with the crowd. It was emphasized that he was not mentioned in the FIR and that no murder charges were filed against him. Furthermore, the video footage of him running with the crowd had not been filed.

“First and foremost the allegations of criminal antecedents do not stand against me. Even in the charge sheet it has been categorically mentioned that I have no criminal antecedent. Second important fact is that I am 40% paralyzed. I have polio by birth. Now, my incrimination has come only on the basis of video footage which has been allegedly stated in the statements of only two witnesses that I have been running in the mob. And the allegation is not of killing the police officer, but that I was a part of the mob and one person Prashant Nath actually fired the gun after snatching it from the police officer. There is no allegation of killing against me. The allegation is also that I was shouting ‘Maaro, maaro’. The FIR does not name me, it is on the basis of CCTV footage. Any video footage showing me has not been filed. Possession of CCTV footage has not been recovered from my possession.”

The Bench Stated -
“It is a case of mob violence, over the alleged incident of cow slaughter.”

Mr. Sthalekar, in his appeal of the High Court’s refusal to grant bail, notified the Court that the sole justification for the rejection of release is the testimony of the two witnesses, which are flatly contradictory.

“The only fact today is that my bail has been rejected on the basis of statement of two witnesses. Those two witnesses, one is the complainant. The complainant categorically does not mention this incident in the FIR. The second police officer whose statement has been recorded; in that statement he has not even seen, not an eye – witness to the incident. In the second statement he says…There is categorically inconsistency. That apart there are new evidence that has been filed. These two people have not given any video footage where I was seen.”

He further claimed that every other accused in the case had been freed on bond, but he had been imprisoned for the last three years.

“Every other accused has been released on bail and there is no challenge to their bail order. My lord, there are four people who have been alleged to be a part of the mob, who assaulted the police officer who died…Out of these 4 people, only I am in jail for the last three years. Every other person has been released on bail.”

The bench told Mr. Sthalekar that the petitioner had filed a plea seeking not only the continuation of his client’s detention but also the revocation of bail orders for the other accused.

“There are two other petitions that have come before us where bail has been granted. Now, effectively that this bail should be cancelled and the order passed in your case of continued incarceration be sustained, that is the effect.”

Mr. Sthalekar asserted that –
“Categorical assertion has to be made by the State. They have not done so.”

Mr. Hegde stated that the State has submitted a counter affidavit stating that the bail should be revoked.

Mr. Sthalekar contended that no charges had been filed and that the trial had not yet commenced. In such cases, denying bail would imply that his clients would be imprisoned indefinitely.

“The other important factor is that this is not a matter of trial. There are 128 witnesses; the charges have not yet been filed. The trial has not yet begun. By that logic I’ll be in jail forever. I have already been in jail for the last 3 years.”

The bench enquired -
“In the counter affidavit, they say charges have been filed. We will ask Counsel for the State what steps have taken to include these sections.”

Mr. Ajay Kumar Mishra, Additional Advocate General for the State of Uttar Pradesh, contended that -
“In Lokendra’s matter charge sheet has been filed…In Rajni Singh’s matter the accused was also mentioned in the FIR, lead the FIR. In Lokendra’s matter, he is still in jail and charges of Section – 302 etc have been framed as per our Counter affidavit.”

Rephrasing the query, the Bench asked -
“What we are asking in this that if you say that the bail has to be cancelled, why did you not file a SLP…You say that certain charges…has not been included while taking cognizance. What did you do?”

Mr. Mishra pointed out that the complainant filed the SLP within a month after the impugned decisions. In light of this, the state had simply filed a counter – affidavit in support of her case.

The Court was critical of the State’s inactivity, remarking -
“It is very surprising that a complainant could follow the track of the case by filing SLP against granting of bail and you being a party who been opposed the bail application is saying that you want to take umbrage under the SLP filed by the complainant. Why have you not taken any steps. For the first time you are saying that Section – 34 has not been added.”

The bench emphasized that the accusations were not prepared in accordance with Section – 34, which would have significant ramifications in the event of mob violence.

“It has to be there. Your specific case is that as a mob they came and attacked. Section – 34 (IPC) has to be there.”

Mr. Mishra apprised the Court -
“As per our instruction, charge of Section – 302 has been framed against three persons, in which Lokendra is already there. Our instructions are that Lokendra, Prashant, and Rahul they all are still in jail and charges have been framed. There are about 44 accused persons…So far as Rajni’s matter is considered in this case, Yogesh Raj is Section – 302 and 34 has not been put in the charge sheet.”

Mr. Hegde informed the Court that just a charge sheet had been presented and that the Trial Court had yet to determine charges. Mr. Pashupati Nath Razdan, testifying on Yogesh Raj’s behalf, informed the bench that there was no particular charge of lynching against him and that he was only opposing the slaughter of cows.

“As far as respondent number – 2 is concerned there is no specific allegation against me of lynching the deceased inspector. My whole role was that I was protesting for only the cow slaughtering alone. It is not their case also.”

The Bench specifically noted that the State had asserted in the Counter Affidavit that it was an instance of mob lynching -
“That is exactly what they are saying in the Counter Affidavit…That is their stand now.”

Tagged: Bulandshahr Violence   Supreme Court   Allahabad High Court   Yogesh Raj   Subodh Kumar Singh   Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul   Justice M.M. Sundresh  
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