The Tripura High Court has recently rejected the anticipatory bail application of a man who is alleged to be part of a mob that murdered/lynched Saiful Islam, an 18-year-old man, on the suspicion that he was a cattle thief.
A single-judge bench of Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay passed this order while hearing the anticipatory bail application of Gagan Debbarma.
Apprehending arrest in Mungiakami PS case registered for offence punishable under Sections 341 and 302 read with Section 34 IPC, Debbarma filed the petition under Section 438 CrPC for granting pre-arrest bail to him.
The facts of the case is that the officer in-charge of Mungiakami police station, Khowai lodged a suo motu complaint at his police station on June 20, 2021 alleging, inter alia, that at 06.25 am on the day, he received telephonic information from Police Inspector Subhrangshu Bhattacharya of Kalyanpur police station, who informed the complainant that one person suspected to be a cattle lifter was detained by the local people at Sovaram Chow Para, where the presence of police was urgently required.
The complainant recorded the information in the general diary of his police station vide MGK PS GD entry No. 7 and with the approval of his higher authority, the complainant along with Sub Inspector Ranjan Biswas rushed to the spot.
At the spot, the complainant found that one Saiful Islam of about 18 years of age was lying on the street near Sovaram Chow Para SB school in an alarming condition with several cuts on his body and the injured was not able to speak anything. Seeing police, the local people who gathered there, left the place. The injured was shifted to Mungiakami primary health centre from where he was referred to GBP hospital. The injured succumbed to his injuries in GBP hospital at Agartala on the same day.
Complainant further alleged that from his secret source, he came to know that the deceased along with his associates had stolen cattle from the area during the intervening night between June 19, 2021 and June 20, 2021 and while they were transporting the stolen cattle they were detained by the local people. When the deceased Saiful Isalm was trying to escape, he was detained at Sovaram Chow Para and manhandled by an agitated mob which caused his wounds and he succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The Complainant did not name anyone as accused in his FIR.
During investigation, police recorded the statements of some of the witnesses who witnessed the assault on Saiful Islam and saw his assailants. In the course of investigation, the post-mortem examination report of the deceased and other materials were also collected by the investigating officer.
On the basis of the incriminating materials collected during investigation, the investigating agency took initiative to arrest the applicant namely Gagan Debbarma for which he has filed the application under Section 438 Cr.P.C seeking protection from arrest and detention.
It is contended by the counsel of the applicant that he is totally innocent and he does not have any involvement in the alleged assault of the deceased.
The counsel for the applicant submitted that he is a student who has been pursuing his studies in Assam. The counsel also submitted that accused Dinu Kumar Debbarma and another accused who were also arrested in connection with this case were released on bail. Therefore, by application of the principle of parity, the applicant should also be released on bail.
The counsel for the applicant said that he is not an FIR named accused and no prima facie case of the charge of murder has been made out against him and therefore there is no justifiable reason of his arrest and detention.
Public Prosecutor R. Datta, on the other hand, contended that a young man of 18 years was brutally murdered by a mob on suspicion that he was with the cattle lifters and statements of eyewitnesses has revealed the name of the accused petitioner as one of the mob who chased the deceased and killed him. After killing Saiful Islam, his assailants tried to cause disappearance of evidence by burying his body.
Datta submitted that this is one of the gravest forms of offence known to the society in which the extraordinary relief of pre-arrest bail under Section 438 Cr.P.C. cannot be granted to the accused.
He submitted that other members of the mob who killed Saiful Islam are yet to be booked. In these circumstances, release of the applicant on pre-arrest bail will frustrate the investigation of the case.
Datta said the principle of parity with others accused will not apply in this case because, though the charge is the same, the circumstances under which the other accused were granted bail were totally different. Dinu Debbarma and Ripan Debbarma were granted bail after they were arrested and interrogated by police.
He said that in view of the gravity of the offence and the materials available on record, the bail application of Gagan Debbarma may be rejected.
“Keeping in mind the law laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Sanjay Chandra (Supra) which has been relied on by the counsel of the petitioner, the court is of the view that apart from the gravity of offence, there are other factors which are unfavourable to the accused applicant in this case. A young boy of 18 years was brutally lynched by a mob only on the suspicion that he was a cattle lifter even though no cattle was found in his possession. The eyewitness version of some of the witnesses whose statements have been recorded by police in the course of investigation demonstrate that the applicant was one of the members of the mob who was found chasing and lynching the deceased. Having considered the given facts and circumstances of the case and keeping in mind the parameters laid down by the Apex Court in the judgments cited above, the court is of the view that the applicant cannot be granted pre-arrest bail in the case,” the Court observed while rejecting the bail application.