17 May 2023 10:24 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the four persons, who were acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in the 2008 Jaipur bomb blasts case, be released if their detention is not required in any other case.On May 13 in 2008, a number of explosions took place in Jaipur, resulting into death of 71 persons and injuries to 185 persons. The Rajasthan High Court, in March, acquitted all the...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the four persons, who were acquitted by the Rajasthan High Court in the 2008 Jaipur bomb blasts case, be released if their detention is not required in any other case.
On May 13 in 2008, a number of explosions took place in Jaipur, resulting into death of 71 persons and injuries to 185 persons. The Rajasthan High Court, in March, acquitted all the four convicts in the case, who were awarded death sentences by the trial court and upheld the acquittal of fifth accused on the ground that prosecution has not been able to establish the chain of the circumstances to establish their guilt. One among the accused was also found to be a juvenile at the time of the offence.
A Bench of Justices Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Rajesh Bindal, while refusing to pass an absolute stay on the High Court’s order, has imposed these conditions:
The Court was considering a challenge moved by the State of Rajasthan against the Rajasthan High Court’s order. Earlier this week, the Court had a plea moved by the victims against the High Court’s order.
The Bench also stayed the directions issued in Paragraph 8 of the concurring judgment written by Justice Sameer Jain which ordered an initiation of inquiry and disciplinary proceedings against the investigating officers.
This was after Attorney General for India R Venkataramani pointed out the High Court had used harsh language against the investigating officials in the order. The court, while slamming the investigating agencies, had directed the Rajasthan DGP to take action against the erring officials.
“This is too strong an observation, and that too, in a matter like this where more than 5-6 of such incident took place all over the country and one led to discovery of yet another bomb blast. It is too serious, a matter”, the AG argued when the matter had come up today.
The Court also asked the State to ensure that notice is served to all the Respondents, as only two out of the four were represented today.
Have To Hear Them Before Allowing ‘Drastic’ Prayer Of Continued Detention Post Acquittal: SC
The AG sought for an order of arrest and continued detention of the four acquitted accused as per Section 390 of the CrPC. However, the Court said that such a "drastic action" cannot be taken without hearing the accused and perusing the records, as the "presumption of innocence gets reinforced after acquittal".
“Before we examine the drastic prayer made by Attorney General, we will have to examine the evidence and other material on record before the High Court and we will have to hear the accused. We, therefore, direct in three weeks from today, the complete paper book is filed on record on the basis of soft copies supplied by the Court”, the Bench observed in its order
Therefore, the Court called for the entire record of the Trial Court and directed the State of Rajasthan to ensure that the Court receives it in eight weeks.
If the matter can’t be taken up on August 9, i.e., the next date of hearing, then the State of Rajasthan is free to argue on the point of Section 390 of the CrPC which provides for arrest of accused in appeal against acquittal, the Court added.
The Court also clarified that the High Court’s order can’t be used by the accused to secure bail in other cases. Those cases will have to be treated independently, the Court recorded in the order.
The Court also directed that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice of India as the matter requires to be heard by a three-judge bench as it is an appeal against death sentence.
We Will Have To Apply Our Mind: SC During Hearing
During the hearing, the Bench said that it would have to examine the merits of the case before staying the High Court’s order.
“Even if you (AG) are right, you are calling upon us to hear the appeal. We will have to go into the merits and record a finding, whether these persons should continue in jail or not”.
The court further added that it would be persuaded in this regard only after notice is served to the accused.
“We will have to hear them….we are not inclined to pass that order today (to keep the accused in jail even after acquittal). We are aware that there is a power under Section 390 under the CrPC. Even assuming that you are right, before passing such a drastic order, we will have to go through the evidence, we will have to consider the issue of prima facie case, otherwise, it’s a serious order to pass that after acquittal persons will continue to remain in custody till disposal of the appeal. Therefore, we will have to apply our mind to the merits of the case”.
The Court said that it can’t “mechanically stay” the High Court’s order.
AG Venkataramani, said that he was on the settled principle of law – Section 390 of the CrPC.
“We will hear you on this but it has consequences….We will have to lay down under what circumstances such drastic powers can be exercised as far as a person in jail in considered, after acquittal”, the Court said.
The AG pointed to the series of 6-7 blasts and the number of persons who had lost their lives, highlighting the seriousness of the case.
AG Venkataramani and Senior Advocate Manish Singhvi appeared for the State of Rajasthan. The victims were represented by Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, Advocates Shiv Mangal Sharma, Hemant Nahata and Aditya Jain.
Accused Sarvar Azmi was represented by Senior Advocates Siddharth Luthra and Siddharth Agarwal. Accused Mohammed Salman was represented by Senior Advocate Rebecca John.
Case Title: State of Rajasthan vs Mohammed Saif @ Karian | Crl A No. 1527/2023
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