8 July 2023 11:00 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court granted bail to a man co-accused of luring an unassuming job seeker to his ultimate death during the Covid-19 pandemic on the ground that the prosecution prima facie failed to substantiate the circumstantial evidence against him.Justice SM Modak granted bail to Sagar Ponnala booked under Sections 326 (grievous hurt), 302 (murder) and 34 of IPC. The judge noted that...
The Bombay High Court granted bail to a man co-accused of luring an unassuming job seeker to his ultimate death during the Covid-19 pandemic on the ground that the prosecution prima facie failed to substantiate the circumstantial evidence against him.
Justice SM Modak granted bail to Sagar Ponnala booked under Sections 326 (grievous hurt), 302 (murder) and 34 of IPC. The judge noted that apart from call records there was nothing more to connect Ponnala to the crime.
It further rejected the prosecution’s argument that the bounty-bag collected by a watchman near the crime scene and handed over to the police days later could be termed as a recovery at Ponnala’s behest merely because he allegedly pointed out the place where the bag was left.
“The prosecution wants to connect the present Applicant to seizure of this bag but it is fact that this seizure is not under the memorandum as contemplated under section 27 of the Evidence Act. There is no recovery at the instance of present Applicant,” the Judge observed.
It was the prosecution’s case that Ponnala, in connivance with other co-accused lured the deceased by offering him a job during the pandemic. Ponnala allegedly called the deceased at a spot, convinced him to share an auto by posing as a driver. The co-accused were present in the rickshaw as co-passengers.
Ponnala was assaulted with a sickle and a rod and later dumped on the road nearby after robbing his belongings on September 11, 2021. He died in the hospital three days later.
The prosecution’s case was based on circumstantial evidence. A bag seized under a seizure panchnama purportedly belonging to the deceased and call records which allegedly showed incoming calls to the deceased from a number allegedly belonging to the Ponnala.
The bag allegedly belonging to the deceased was thrown in the compound of a residential building by a co-accused juvenile conflict in law. This was allegedly witnessed by the watchman of a nearby building. The watchman picked up the bag and held onto it for a week.
Advocate Misbah Solkar for Ponnala argued that after her client’s arrest, the same bag was shown to be seized from him as the police claimed he pointed out the spot where it was thrown.
Justice Modak observed the seizure was not a Memorandum statement under S. 27 of Evidence Act which lead to the recovery of the bag of the deceased at the behest of the Applicant.
Solkar argued that the investigating officer failed to seize Ponnala’s phone.
Regarding this the court noted that the deceased’s call records reflected one number repeatedly which had the applicant’s name. However, the public prosecutor failed to show any material from the chargesheet which proved the cell number belonged to Ponnala.
Case Title: Sagar Chandramauli Ponnala vs. State of Maharashtra
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