Read Order: Savita v. State of Haryana
Chandigarh, March 11, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the bail plea of the petitoner-mother who, in conspiracy with the adoptive parents of her minor daughter, hired professional killers to take her daughter’s life for ‘compromising their honour’ by eloping with a Balmiki boy.
This was an act of honour killing which lead to dual murders of the minor daughter along with that of Police personnel (SI Narendra) who succumbed to bullet injuries while he was taking the minor concerned out of a Juvenile Justice Board.
The case of the petitioner (Savita) was placed before the Bench of Justice Gurvinder Singh Gill seeking grant of regular bail in a case pertaining to an FIR under Sections 186, 333, 353, 302, 307/120-B/34 IPC, Sections 25, 29-A, 54, 59 of the Arms Act, 1959 and Section 3(2)(v) of the S.C./S.T. Act.
This case revolved around the honour killing of Mamta (daughter of Savita). The petitioner was the biological mother of the deceased-Juvenile, but she was given to her aunt and uncle in adoption. Mamta eloped with a boy who belonged to a different caste and as a result, the family members felt embarrassed and thus they conspired to kill her. When (Mamta) was produced before Juvenile Justice Board she was accompanied by SI Narender and Constable Sushila (the complainant). Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on Mamta, SI Narendra also sustained bullet injuries and eventually Mamta and SI Narendra died.
Hence, on the complaint of the complainant, the above stated FIR was registered.
It was the case of the petitioner’s counsel that contrary to the contentions of the prosecution, once she gave away Mamta in adoption, she did not have anything to do with Mamta and her conduct much less feel embarrassed by it. It was further submitted that in any case, even as per the FIR, the death of Mamta and SI Narendra was a result of guns shots fired by two boys and that she was only implicated on the alleged statement of co-accused (adoptive father) who alleged that the petitioner was a conspirator in the murder. Lastly, it was argued that some other co-accused who were also roped in with the aid of Section 120-B IPC, were already granted bail by the trial Court.
On the other hand, the State counsel while opposing the petition submitted that since the petitioner (biological mother of Mamta) and her adoptive parents were closely related, it could not be said that the petitioner had nothing to do with the conduct of Mamta. It was also submitted that the petitioner and other co-accused, upon feeling that their ‘honour’ was compromised by Mamta on account of her having an alliance with a Balmiki boy, decided to eliminate her and that such like conduct was absolutely unpardonable. Also, the counsel submitted that co-accused in his disclosure statement, clearly named the petitioner as one of the co-accused.
Therefore, while arguing that the petitioner was involved in one of the most deprecated crimes of ‘honour killing’ of her own daughter, there was no room for any kind of leniency. The State counsel however informed that as of the date 14 out of 44 prosecution witnesses were examined and that the petitioner was behind bars since last about 3 ½ years.
After having considering the rival submissions of the Counsel, the Court perused disclosure statement of one of the co-accused to observe that although the petitioner was not named in the FIR yet it was clear from the disclosure statement that the act of Mamta eloping with a boy of another caste affected the petitioner as well and she was a part of the conspiracy. Further, the Court was of the opinion that the factual position wherein the petitioner (biological mother) conspired to get her daughter killed through professional killers on account of ‘compromising of their honour’ and in the process, one more person was also killed, certainly did not leave any room for leniency. On the aspect of delay in examining prosecution witnesses, the Court stated that the same (delay) could be attributed to the spread of the COVID pandemic.
Regarding the argument of parity with the case of other co-accused, the Court opined that the petitioner could not claim any benefit on account of the fact that the said accused were granted bail inasmuch as the said persons were not related in any manner to the deceased whereas the petitioner, being the biological mother, did have a motive to eliminate the deceased on the so-called ground of assumed compromise of their honour. Also, Justice Gill added that it would not be out of place to mention that during the proceedings of the trial, two eye-witnesses who were named in the FIR, on being examined, supported the case of the prosecution.
In these circumstances, while dismissing the bail plea, the Court directed expediting the conclusion of the trial.
Justice Gill concluded, “The prosecution shall ensure the presence of the prosecution witnesses on the dates, as may be fixed by the trial Court for recording their statements so that there is no further delay in the proceedings of trial. The Trial Court may make a schedule in advance for summoning the PWs and fix short dates for the witnesses to be summoned. Special messengers be deputed for securing presence of the witnesses. If deemed necessary, a request be also be made to Senior Superintendent of Police concerned for ensuring that the presence of all the PWs is secured for the dates as may be fixed by the Trial Court.”