SC raps Bombay HC for granting bail to hate killing accused

SC raps Bombay HC for granting bail to hate killing accused

SC raps Bombay HC for granting bail to hate killing accused

The Supreme Court has strongly disapproved  the grant of bail to members of fringe group Hindu Rashtra Sena, accused of brutal assault and murder of a man, with the reasoning that the fault of the victim was that he belonged to a different religion.

The top court said, in plural composition of the country, the courts called upon to deal with rights of various communities cannot make such observations, which may appear to be coloured with bias for or against a community.

Innocent Mohsin Sheikh was killed by the group members, who were returning after a meeting, in Pune in June 2014 as he was wearing a green shirt and sported a beard.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara said it is possible that the high court judge wanted to rule out a personal motive against the victim, but  the observation only "emphasised communal hatred" and could be misunderstood as "a kind of justification for murder".

"While it may be possible to understand a reference to the community of the parties involved in an assault, it is difficult to understand why it was said that "the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion" and further "I (HC judge) consider this factor in favour of the accused"," the bench observed.

The court said it is also possible that the single judge may not have intended to hurt the feelings of any particular community or support the feelings of another community but the words are clearly vulnerable to such criticism.

HC order set aside

The court set aside the Bombay High Court's order of January 12, that granted bail to accused Ajay Dilip Lalge and Vijay Rajendra Gambhire. On the bail being challenged by advocate Farrukh Rasheed on behalf of Mubin Shaikh, brother of the victim, the court ordered the accused to surrender. It told the HC to consider the matter afresh.

After going through the HC's order, the bench said: "We find that the reason can, on a fair reading, be understood or misunderstood almost as a mitigating circumstance or a kind of a justification for the murder and it is obvious that the fact that the deceased belonged to a certain community cannot be a justification for any assault, much less murder."