16 Sep 2023 8:15 AM GMT
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has dismissed the bail plea of self-styled Godman Rampal, who was booked for an attempt to wage war against the government in 2014. Rampal had allegedly garnered a huge crowd of devotees in front of his ashram to resist his arrest in connection with a murder case and perpetrated large-scale violence with the police forces. A bench of Justice G.S....
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has dismissed the bail plea of self-styled Godman Rampal, who was booked for an attempt to wage war against the government in 2014. Rampal had allegedly garnered a huge crowd of devotees in front of his ashram to resist his arrest in connection with a murder case and perpetrated large-scale violence with the police forces.
A bench of Justice G.S. Sandhawalia and Justice Alok Jain observed that the petitioner was arrested with great difficulty and that his long detention alone did not entitle him to bail.
"It was with great difficulty that the arrest warrants as such were executed at the precious cost of innocent lives of women and a child who were gathered in the Ashram who were being used as a human shields. In such circumstances, we are of the considered opinion that merely on account of the long detention, the petitioner is not entitled for the benefit of grant of regular bail."
Notably, Rampal has spent over 8 years, 8 months and 25 days in jail since his arrest.
This is the second bail petition moved by him seeking regular bail in the 2014 case wherein he was charged under several sections under the Arms Act and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
In 2014 when police went to arrest Rampal in another case, he gathered a large number of devotees including women and children to resist his arrest. It was while effecting this arrest that the violent clash happened. Accordingly, another FIR was registered in 2014 against the petitioner.
As per the FIR, the petitioner made about 600-700 ladies and children sit outside the main gate and 1500-2000 young persons were stationed on the roof of the Ashram carrying lathis, bombs and guns. When the police announced on the loudspeaker that there were arrest warrants, the associates of the petitioner had made persons sit outside the Ashram with jerrycans of diesel and petrol, who were threatening the police that they would not allow the petitioner to be arrested and the police had to walk over their dead bodies to do so.
Four women and a child had lost their lives in the incident, and substantial damage was caused to the property, eleven persons received firearm injuries and more than 100 persons were injured, submitted the State.
The State invoked Section 15 of UAPA and submitted that there was usage of bombs and an attempt to overawe the State through criminal force and, therefore, it would amount to a terrorist act. It was thus argued that a prima facie case was made against the petitioner.
The Trial Court while framing the charges noted that the trust set up by Rampal for pious purposes could not be permitted for undertaking "unlawful activities."
Perusing the charges framed by the Hisar's Special Court, the Court said,
"the allegations as such in the charge would go on to show that the petitioner was apparently acting with such intent which led to a seize of the Ashram for a period of almost three days before he was eventually arrested. The same was being supervised by him out of the Ashram by way of close circuit TVs, which was also part of the challan."
Upon analysing relevant provisions of the UAPA, it was clear that where any act is done to threaten the integrity and security of India or to strike terror in the people by the usage of bombs or other explosive substances which can cause death or damage and cause destruction to property would be a terrorist act.
The Court noted that Rampal took the benefit of his followers being pushed forward and used them as human shields to avoid the execution of non-bailable warrants within the premises of the Trust which he had constituted.
It said that it "cannot be easily brushed aside."
Further, the bench added that he had already been convicted of murder on two different charges.
"The gravity and the manner in which there was a display of strength to oppose the arrest warrants at his instance would go on to show that it cannot be recorded that he was not involved in any manner and the charges which had been framed against him under Section 15 and 22-C of UAPA are without any substance."
The Court also noted that Rampal also allegedly made an attempt to wage war against the State and the petrol bombs have been recovered to show the criminal intent to attack the police party behind the shield of women and children.
Consequently, the bail application was rejected.
Case Title: Rampal v. State of Haryana
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 173
Appearance: Vinod Ghai, Sr. Advocate with Advocates Neha Sonawane, Amrita Garg, Chand Rathi, Mahima Dogra for the petitioner.
Deepak Bhardwaj, DAG, Haryana.