Accused can’t be detained under the guise of punishing him by presuming guilt: Apex Court dismisses Centre’s appeal against bail to CPI (Maoist) supporter allegedly involved in killing of 4 Jharkhand cops
Justices Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha & Aravind Kumar [10-05-2024]






Tulip Kanth


New Delhi, May 13, 2024: In a criminal case where the NIA had filed a chargesheet in the year 2019 against 34 CPI (Maoist) militants in the killing of four personnel of Jharkhand Police, the Supreme Court has upheld the order granting bail to one of the accused persons. However, the Top Court has granted liberty to the prosecution to seek cancellation of bail if any of the bail conditions are violated by the respondent-accused. 


The incident is of the year 2019 when at the Lukuiya More area of Jharkhand, the banned terrorist organization CPI (Maoist) had fired indiscriminately at the patrolling police party resulting in the death of 4 police personnel. It was the case of the prosecution that arms and ammunition were also looted from martyred police personnel by raising slogans and thereafter the Maoists fled. One of the home guards who escaped unhurt had rushed to Chandwa Police Station and lodged a complaint resulting in the FIR being registered against 18 named and a few unknown persons.


The Central Government directed the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to take up investigation and as such the FIR was re-registered . The NIA submitted the supplementary chargesheet against 34 persons including the respondent for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149, 452, 302, 353 and 379 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) read with Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959, and Section 10, 13, 17 and 18 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967


The appeal before the Top Court was filed by the Union Of India questioning the order whereunder the respondent was directed to be enlarged on bail on terms and conditions stipulated thereunder by setting aside the order of the Special Judge, NIA, Ranchi.


The appellant had contended that the respondent was a key partner of a construction firm and provided financial as well as logistics support for the terrorist activities. It was further contended that the respondent is an active supporter and sympathizer of the proscribed terrorist organization and is directly connected to the incident which led to the killing of four (4) police personnel of the Jharkhand Police.


On perusal of the entire material on record including the additional affidavits filed and the counter/reply filed thereto by the respondent, the Division Bench of Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha and Justice Aravind Kumar opined that the High Court had scrutinized the entire material on record and recorded a finding that name of the respondent did not figure in the initial FIR registered or in the statements of witnesses and most of the statements disclosed the absence of the respondent’s name being taken or any overt act being attributed against the respondent.


Referring to the judgment in Vaman Narain Ghiya v. State of Rajasthan [LQ/SC/2008/2467] and NIA v. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali [LQ/SC/2019/607], the Bench said, “It is well settled law that an accused cannot be detained under the guise of punishing him by presuming the guilt”, while further adding, “The broad probability of accused being involved in the committing of the offence alleged will have to be seen.”


It was opined by the Bench that the grounds on which the respondent had been ordered to be enlarged on bail by the High Court came to be passed way back on 30.01.2023 whereunder conditions as stipulated therein had been imposed. “In the absence of their being a strong prima facie case on the conditions of the bail having been violated, it would not be appropriate for the said order being reversed or set aside after a lapse of fifteen (15) months”, it stated.


Moreover, the Bench noticed that the respondent having been enlarged on bail conditionally and the conditions so stipulated having not been violated and undisputedly the appellant-state having not sought for cancellation of the bail till date would be the prime reason to not entertain this appeal. 


“In fact, the apprehension of the Union of India that respondent is likely to pose threat to the witnesses and there was a threat posed to the complainant, Mr. Sanjay Kumar Tiwari, would not be a ground to set aside the impugned order enlarging the respondent on bail in as much in the case referred against the respondent for the said offence he has been granted bail”, the Bench held.


Finding no other overwhelming material on record to set aside the order granting bail which outweighed the liberty granted by the High Court under the impugned order. Dismissing the appeal, the Bench observed, “However, to allay the apprehension of the prosecution it would suffice to observe that the prosecution would be at liberty to seek for cancellation of the bail in the event any of the conditions being violated by the respondent and in the event of such an application being filed we see no reason as to why said application would not be considered on its own merits by the jurisdictional court independently and without being influenced by its earlier observations.”

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