Thursday, February 22, 2024

Calcutta High Court grants bail to ex-Chief Secretary, Andaman and Nicobar Islands in gangrape case

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The Calcutta High Court has granted bail to Jitendra Narain, former Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in connection with the gangrape of a girl, who had approached him for job.

The Circuit Bench of Justice Chitta Ranjan Dash and Justice Md. Nizamuddin at Port Blair observed on Monday that since this was the first case in the life of the petitioner and because he was not a history-sheeter, there was no likelihood of the offence being repeated by him. 

The High Court noted that since the petitioner was currently serving as an officer of the Union government, there was no chance of his absconding. 

It further observed that there was no material to support the apprehension that if the petitioner was released on bail, he would influence the witnesses. There was also no danger of justice by the bail order, it added.

The government officer, along with three other persons, were booked under Sections 376 (C), 376 (D), 201, 506, 120 (B) of the India Penal Code (IPC). A charge sheet has already been filed and two of the co-accused have been given discharge in the case.

The Delhi High Court had earlier granted transit bail (interim) protection in the case. He was also  granted interim protection by the Principal Bench of the Calcutta High Court.

Noting that the offence made out against the government officer on the basis of police papers was grave and attracted stringent punishment on being proven, the Bench observed that the same could be decided at the trial stage.

It further pointed out that bail sought by an accused cannot be rejected on the findings of a prima facie case alleging involvement of an accused in a grave offence attracting severe punishment.

The accused could not be left to be incarcerated in complete derogation of his fundamental or basic right of liberty, added the Bench.

It said the petitioner was an IAS officer, who has already been transferred from the Islands. 

The High Court further took in view the submissions made by the Counsel for the State that some of the witnesses had been declared as protected.

It noted that if stringent conditions were put on the petitioner, he would not be in a position to influence any of the witnesses in these Islands.

The Bench directed the concerned Magistrate court to set terms and conditions for release of Narain on bail. 
The High Court also told the petitioner not to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, except for the purpose of attending the trial on proper receipt of notice from the Trial Court.

He was asked not to keep any contact with any person or official of these Islands by phone or by any other mode of communication during the currency of this order.

The government officer was directed by the High Court not to threaten, induce or coerce any witness of the case in any manner, whatsoever, during the course of this order by any means of communication.

He was asked not to leave the country except on permission by the competent authority of the Union government on urgent official work.

Narain was told to submit his Passport before the Trial Court during the pendency of the trial.

In case of his official visit to another country, his Passport would be handed over to him by the Trial Court on proper application filed to that effect, added the High Court.

Case Title: Jitendra Narain vs The State (Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands)

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