Thursday, October 5, 2023

Allahabad High Court grants bail to Amitabh Thakur in self-immolation case outside Supreme Court

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The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to former IPS officer Amitabh Thakur in the abetment to suicide case involving a woman and her friend, who had set themselves on fire outside the Supreme Court and succumbed to burn injuries.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rajeev Singh passed this order, while hearing a Criminal Miscellaneous Bail Application filed by Amitabh Thakur.

The bail application has been filed by the applicant in FIR under Sections 120-B, 167, 195-A, 218, 306, 504, 506 IPC, Police Station Hazratganj, District Lucknow with the prayer to enlarge him on bail.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that the applicant has falsely been implicated in the F.I.R lodged by SubInspector, Daya Shankar Dwivedi.

It has further been submitted that the applicant is a law abiding citizen and is active on social media. The applicant is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering and alumni of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. The applicant is also an Ex IPS Officer of 1992 batch of U.P Cadre and he has always been a socially conscious person towards the public at large.

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It has further been submitted that the applicant always raised his voice against the victimization of the civilised persons either by the Government machinery or by others and referred the matter to the appropriate forum with the request for taking necessary action, on account of which, frivolous cases were filed against him and he has been compulsorily retired from service vide order dated 17th March, 2021 and consequential order dated 21st March, 2021.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that the facts of the case are that on 5th November, 2020, an acquaintance of the applicant shared a video link on his WhatsApp, which was of 10:08 minutes uploaded on social media Facebook, wherein victims  was accusing the then Sub-Inspector Sanjay Rai, Circle Officer, Bhelupur, Varansi and one Atul Rai of torturing him.

He was also accusing the District Administration of Varanasi as being responsible for his ordeal. In the aforesaid video, victims were continuously venting out his anger as aggrieved by the action of the aforesaid officials. Apprehending some untoward incident, the applicant being a responsible and prudent citizen, besides being an IPS Officer, tagged the aforesaid video on his Twitter handle and Facebook to the concerned officials of U.P Police on their official ID and requested to take cognizance on the issue as also to conduct inquiry in the same for ventilating the grievance of a man.

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The applicant also sent an email on the same day, i.e, on November 05, 2020 to the concerned officials.

Nadeem Murtaza, counsel for the applicant submitted that after the aforesaid action of the applicant, on the very next day, i.e, on 6th November, 2020, applicant was contacted by several persons on social media informing him that said matter pertains to one Atul Rai, who happens to be the Member of Parliament from Ghosi.

It was also informed to the applicant that victims had conspired with one Angad Rai and had got the Atul Rai implicated in a false rape case. Applicant also received a copy of the inquiry report of Circle Officer, P.S Bhelupur, District Varanasi dated 08.08.2020 and audio call recording purported to be call recording between victims and another person, who was informed as Angad Rai.

After perusal of the aforesaid inquiry report dated 08.08.2020, the applicant learnt that one F.I.R  was lodged by victim girl against Atul Rai, under Sections 420, 376, 504, 506 I.P.C, P.S Lanka, District Varanasi.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that the applicant vide e-mail sent a letter dated 06.11.2020 and informed to the concerned officials about the aforesaid inquiry report dated 08.08.2020 as well as audio recording that for 13672 times, conversation was made by Angad Rai from Sonbhadra jail.

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Counsel for the applicant vehemently submitted that the applicant was neither acquainted with victims nor with Atul Rai.

Murtaza submitted that by the said act, the applicant, being a police officer, only tried to attract the responsible officers towards the report of Circle Officer, which reveals that more than 10,000 times, conversation was made by a person from inside the jail and the safety and security of the jail was at stake.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that on 6th November, 2020, at about 9.18 p.m, the applicant received a phone call from a lady from mobile. She introduced herself as a victim girl and was very infuriated by the action of the applicant, whereby the applicant had requested concerned officials to take strict legal action in the matter through his social media posts. Victim girl threatened and intimidated the applicant on call and kept saying that she would come to Lucknow and self-immolate in front of the applicant’s house. The said call lasted for 10:41 minutes.

Murtaza submitted that the victims while talking to the applicant on 06.11.2020 and 07.11.2020, had threatened and intimidated that both of them will come to the residence of applicant and commit suicide in front of his house. The applicant, apprehending the mishap, immediately reported the Director General of Police, U.P, Lucknow vide letter dated 07.11.2020 about the aforesaid calls made by victims to the applicant.

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He further submitted that the charge sheet is already filed under Sections 120B, 167, 195A, 218, 504, 506, and 306 I.P.C. and except Section 306, all the offences are punishable for less than seven years.

Counsel for the applicant said that Section 306 I.PC makes abetment of suicide a criminal offence prescribes punishment for the same. Abetment is defined under Section 107 IPC, according to which, a person abets the doing of a thing, who instigates any person to do that thing; or engages with one or more other person or persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or intentionally aids, by any or illegal omission, the doing of that thing.

V.K Shahi, Additional Advocate General vehemently opposed the prayer for grant of bail to the applicant.

The AAG further submitted that incident of rape was committed by Atul Rai with victim on March 7, 2018, but when her FIR was not lodged, she made a complaint to Director General of Police, on which, FIR was lodged on May 1, 2019 under Sections 420, 376, 504, 506 IPC, PS Lanka, District Varansi against accused Atul Rai and charge sheet was filed by the Investigating Officer after detail investigation in the said case.

He also submitted that the trial of the said case is pending before MP/MLA court.

AAG submitted that father of the said accused Atul Rai moved an application before the SSP/Additional Director General, Varanasi Zone for further investigation, on which, report was asked from Circle Officer, PS Bhelupur, District Varanasi, who after conducting the inquiry in a case where charge sheet was already filed and trial is going on, recommended for further investigation.

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The AAG vehemently submitted that the copy of the inquiry report was taken by the applicant by abusing his position and aired the said report of the Circle Officer in relation to further investigation on social media with the intention to give favour to the accused Atul Rai. Shahi next submitted that the accused has no right to request for further investigation.

The Court noted, “It is evident from the allegations made in the FIR lodged by Sub-Inspector, Daya Shankar Dwivedi that the applicant had aired the report of Circle Officer, PS Bhelupur, District Varanasi dated August 8, 2020, which was forwarded to SSP, Varanasi, in which, certain observations were made that victims conspired with Angad Rai (who is confined in District Jail, Sonbhadra) for implicating Atul Rai. In the said report, it is also mentioned that there were conversations between victims and Angad Rai and other persons more than 10,000 times.

The Circle Officer report dated August 8, 2020 also recommended further investigation of FIR, which was lodged by the victim against Atul Rai, of which, trial was pending before the appropriate court. Allegations made in FIR are that due to said airing of the report on social media, so many vulgar comments were passed by several persons on victims, on the social sites, which were tarnishing the image of victims, on account of which, they committed suicide.

The crux of the allegations made in the FIR is that the applicant, who by misusing his position, obtained the aforesaid report of the Circle Officer and aired the same on social sites, which tarnished the image of victims and, thus, has committed the offence under Sections 120-B, 167, 195-A, 218, 306, 504 and 506 IPC.

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“However, the case diary reveals that one application was moved by the father of Atul Rai for further investigation of FIR lodged by the victim on which a report was sought by the SSP, Varanasi from the Circle Officer, PS Bhelupur. It is further evident that in pursuance of the said directions of SSP, Varanasi, a report dated August 8, 2020 was submitted by the Circle Officer. It is also evident from the case diary that under Right to Information Act, the said report was provided by the officials of the competent police officials to the complainant.

“Moreover, the case diary reveals that the victims, during the conversation with the applicant on phone on November 7, 2020, asked the applicant, if he wanted to help the victims, then the applicant had to give him money per month.

“Admittedly, the charge sheet is already filed and there is no averment in the counter affidavit for tampering any evidence. The applicant has been in jail since August 27, 2021,”

-the Court observed, while allowing the bail application.

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The Court ordered, “Let applicant – Amitabh Thakur be released on bail in FIR under Sections 120-B, 167, 195-A, 218, 306, 504, 506 IPC, Police Station Hazratganj, District Lucknow, on his furnishing personal bond of Rs 20,000 and two reliable sureties each of the like amount, subject to following conditions:-

(i) Applicant will not try to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence of the case or otherwise misuse the liberty of bail.

(ii) Applicant will fully cooperate in expeditious disposal of the case and shall not seek any adjournment on the dates fixed for evidence when witnesses are present in the Court.

(iii) Applicant shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on the dates fixed for (a) opening of the case, (b) framing of charge; and (c) recording of statement under Section 313 CrPC. Any violation of above conditions will be treated as misuse of bail and the Court below will be at liberty to pass appropriate order in the matter regarding cancellation of bail.

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