As God’s own country, Kerala struggles to get back up after being raved by floods, Justice Ananda Sen of the Jharkhand High Court recently directed several accused persons to deposit money in the Kerala Chief Minister’s flood relief fund as a condition for grant of bail.
According to available orders, Justice Sen has allowed more than 20 such bail applications since 27 August, with the amount directed to be deposited ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 75,000. A total amount of more than Rs. 4 lakhs has been ordered to be deposited to the fund.
The allegations against the applicants included embezzlement of MGNREGA funds, illegal transport of coal and sexual harassment, among other things. For instance, two bail applications filed by Deosagar Sahu and Abhay Prasad were allowed, subject to payment of Rs. 10,000 each by them towards the flood relief fund. As per the order, they have been accused of trying to disturb communal harmony by forwarding a message capable of doing so on WhatsApp.
In another Bail Application filed by one Sukhdeo Dangi, the Court directed deposit of Rs. 75,000 to the Kerala flood relief fund. The applicant was accused under various provisions of the Indian Forest Act, Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and Bihar (Jharkhand) Cast Chiran Act.
A Bench comprising Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh and Justice Ratnaker Bhengra had also recently agreed to drop contempt proceedings initiated against Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) MLA Bhola Yadav, subject to payment of cost of Rs. 2.5 Lakhs towards the Kerala Chief Minister’s Flood Relief Fund.
Contempt proceedings had been initiated against Mr. Yadav for his comments on the fodder scam verdict, which had sentenced RJD president Lalu Prasad to 14 years in jail, with a fine of Rs. 60 lakh.
Judges of several other High Courts have also been directing litigants to pay costs towards the relief fund. For instance, the Delhi High Court had, on 21 August, agreed to quash an FIR against a petitioner, subject to payment of Rs. 15,000 towards Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund for the State of Kerala.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court had also recently imposed a condition of payment for Kerala flood relief for restoration of a petition which got dismissed for default, observing that “people of Kerala are facing the natural calamity in the form of severe flood”.
Kerala has been facing an unprecedented crisis, having been hit by the worst-floods in a 100 years. The State has lost nearly 400 people and more than a million have been displaced. While water levels are receding, Kerala now faces the challenge of rebuilding, with the economic cost of damages being estimated in billions of dollars