Read Order: Anoop @ Anuj v. State of Haryana 

Vivek Gupta

Chandigarh, August 6, 2021: Declining anticipatory bail to the co-accused in the Tikri border rape case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that it cannot compromise with the quality of free and fair investigation by enlarging the petitioner on anticipatory bail.

The case pertains to the alleged gangrape of a woman from West Bengal at the site of the farmers’ protests at Delhi’s Tikri border in April this year, following which the victim died of Covid-19 later. 

As per the allegations contained in the FIR dated May 8, a complaint was made by one the victim woman’s father Utpal Basu, a trade union activist and member of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and resident of Hoogli, West Bengal. 

He said his daughter, aged  25 years and a supporter of the farmers’ movement, went to Delhi in April this year to join the protest along with a delegation of six people from Haryana, who allegedly gangraped her both inside the train between Kolkata and Delhi and then at the site of the farm protests at the Tikri border. 

Later, the police charged all six of them – Anil Malik, Anoop Singh Chahnot, Ankush Sangwan, Jagdish Brar, Kovita Arya, and Yogita Suhag for kidnapping, abduction and gangrape.

Accused Anoop Singh, who is the petitioner in the present case of anticipatory bail, submitted before the high court that “the case of the prosecution is nothing but a cock and bull story”, noted the HC. He argued that the present FIR is a brutal attempt to malign the ongoing farmers agitation.

Deepak Sabharwal, Additional Advocate General, Haryana contended that all six accused in the present case were involved in the heinous offences committed upon the victim. He submitted that the co-accused Ankur had already approached the High Court and his anticipatory bail already stands declined by the HC. The AAG vehemently contended that from the bare reading of the FIR, the offence of rape is made out against only two of the accused out of six and the petitioner is one of these two. 

Deciding on the matter, the Bench of Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj stated that primarily, the Courts are required to take into consideration the factors such as the gravity of the offences, the probability of the accused tampering with the investigation and his chances of fleeing from justice while granting the relief of anticipatory bail.

“Applying the said ratio laid down, to the facts and circumstances of the present case, the petitioner does not deserve the concession of the anticipatory bail as the prayer for the custodial interrogation by the prosecution appears to be justified,” the Bench said. 

“The Court cannot ignore the fact that the co-accused Ankur whose prayer for the anticipatory bail has already been declined by the Coordinate Bench carried the allegations of outraging the modesty of the victim, whereas, in the investigation carried so far, the complicity of the present petitioner is since beginning and there are specific allegations of rape and abduction against him. Thus, this Court cannot compromise with the quality of free and fair investigation by enlarging the petitioner on anticipatory bail,” it said.

The HC further said that it is well settled that Article 21 of the Constitution is not an absolute right and is subject to the procedure established by law.

The facts and circumstances involved in the present case, points towards the complicity of the petitioner and thus custodial interrogation of the petitioner is necessary and would not amount to the violation of petitioner’s right under Article 21 of the Constitution, the High Court held. 

“In view of the discussion made above, the present petition being devoid of any merit is dismissed. Nothing said herein shall be treated as an expression of opinion on the merits of the case,” the bench added.

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