The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday denied the bail plea of a class XII student, a minor and the prime accused in the 2017 Ryan School Murder case.
The single bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan observed that the benefit of bail to a juvenile, under Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 could not given to the accused, as the Supreme Court had directed to treat him as an "Adult" for the purposes of trial.
"Though it is well settled principle of law that an application for bail filed by a person who is above of 16 years of age and is alleged to have committed a heinous crime as per Section 2(33) of the Act, pending preliminary assessment by the Board, can be allowed however, this Court is not inclined to grant any relief to the petitioner, in view of the order dated 28.02.2019 passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, directing that for deciding the bail application, the petitioner be treated as an "Adult", therefore, there is little scope for this Court to find out whether the petitioner can be granted the relief under Section 12 of the Act," the High Court observed.
On September 8, 2017, the body of a Class II student Prince (fictitious name given by the Supreme Court to protect identity of minor) was recovered from the washroom of the Ryan International School, Gurugram, Haryana.
Initially, the school bus conductor was apprehended for slitting the throat of the 7-year-old. However later, when the matter was transferred to the Crime Branch, the present accused Bholu (fictitious name given by the Supreme Court to protect identity of minor) was arrested under suspicion of murder. He has been in custody since November 7, 2017.
Bholu had approached the High Court against the orders of the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Gurugram and Appellate Court/Additional Sessions Judge, Gurugram, dismissing his applications for bail.
However the High Court was of the opinion that "The Board and the Appellate Court have passed a detailed order declining the concession of bail to the petitioner in view of the proviso to Section 12(1) of the Act and this Court find no reason to form a different opinion."
The bail plea was opposed by the CBI and the Complainant who submitted that there is every possibility that the Petitioner-accused may try to influence the prosecution witnesses that include minor sister of the deceased and other students.
"The petitioner belongs to a very influential family and the manner in which the State Police has conducted the investigation, prior to its transfer to CBI, demonstrates that the family of the petitioner tried to transpose Ashok Kumar, conductor of the bus as an accused in place of the petitioner," the Complainant submitted.
Concurring with the submission the single bench observed,
"The prosecution has cited certain witnesses, who are minors including the sister of the deceased and therefore, possibility of tampering the evidence, cannot be ruled out, at this stage in view of the totality of circumstances and the affidavit filed by the CBI."
So far as the argument raised by the Petitioner's counsel that the Petitioner-accused was not kept in a congenial atmosphere at Children's Home and was facing medical problems is concerned, the court held that such assertions were not substantially proved.
"The arguments raised by learned senior counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner is not kept in a congenial atmosphere at Children's Home and is facing medical problem, are not proved from the two reports of the Medical Board stating that the petitioner is not facing any serious problem/illness and rather it is noticed that the petitioner is gaining weight," the bench remarked.
Lastly, the court held that the delay in disposal of the trial on account of the pendency of bail/ revision/ SLP before the Higher Courts, wherein status quo has been ordered on 19.11.2018, cannot be taken as a ground to grant the concession of bail to the petitioner.
Case Title: Master Bholu v. State of Haryana & Anr.
Case No.: CRR No. 3838/2018 (O&M)
Quorum: Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan
Appearance: Senior Advocate Rupinder Khosla with Advocates Rajesh Lamba and Sarvesh Malik (for Petitioner); AAG RK Ambavta (for State); Advocate Sumeet Goyal (for respondent Ro.2); Advocate Anupam Singla (for Complainant)