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Allahabad High Court grants bail to man accused of shooting dead a woman in celebratory firing

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The Allahabad High Court has ordered the release of an accused on bail on the condition of paying Rs five lakh to the mother of a woman who was killed in indiscriminate celebratory firing in Sitapur’s Sandana police station area.

A single-judge bench of Justice Vikas Kunvar Srivastav passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by Sri Krishna Rathor.

The bail application is moved on behalf of accused applicant Sri Krishna Rathor, involved in Case under Section 304 of the IPC, registered at Police Station Sandana, District Sitapur.

The occasion of  bail application has arisen on rejection of bail plea of the accused-applicant by learned Special Judge, Sitapur order dated January 11, 2022.

The counsel for the applicant submitted that the case was a case of harsh (celebratory) firing but peculiarly enough, the firing is done by one inmate of the house in a tilak ceremony of another family member in enthusiasm of the ceremonial spirit. He opened fire due to which a woman of the family concerned was seriously injured and died on spot.

Another peculiarity fact lies in the FIR of the incident not lodged by any of the family members but it was noticed by local police itself entered in G.D of December 07, 2021. It is reported by the police officer that at about 7:30 PM when the tilak ceremony was going on, firing by accused-applicant caused hurt and fatal injuries to the woman i.e. the deceased victim Anju D/o Ramnath and wife of one Pradeep.

The counsel submitted that there was neither the intention to kill the deceased nor the pistol was aimed at her, therefore, the act of the accused-applicant was at most rash and negligent.

He further added that not only the accused-applicant but there were so many others also present in the crowd who opened celebratory firing in the same enthusiasm as shown by the present accused-applicant.

Counsel further submitted that it is not established by the prosecution that only the accused/applicant’s act was responsible for causing the death of the deceased Anju.

The Additional Government Advocate, on the other hand, protested the bail application quoting the statement of witnesses who are relatives and were gathered at the ceremonial place at the relevant time of incident particularly the statement of Shanti Devi i.e. mother of the deceased, impressing on the fact that she has confined the role of fatal firing causing the death of the deceased immediately on the spot to the accused-applicant only.

The AGA further quoted the FIR which was investigated and ultimately charge sheet was submitted wherein number of witnesses are named who were present on spot at the time of incident and have unequivocally stated about the firing, however, some of them have not stated to have seen any particular person firing by whom, the fatal injuries occurred to the deceased.

On the grounds of aforesaid materials available on the case diary, AGA submitted that offence is not only rash, negligent and irresponsible but also an unmindful act with brutality in nature. However, any kind of previous enmity on the part of accused-applicant with the family members of the deceased is not stated in the counter affidavit even criminal antecedent is not stated.

The counsel for the bail applicant submitted that the accused-applicant is a government servant and his employment is the only means of livelihood for his family, as such, there is a question at this stage whether he should be given an opportunity to defend himself in the course of trial.

The Court observed that the appellant aimed the gun towards the roof and then fired. It was an unfortunate case of misfiring. The applicant of course cannot absolve himself of the conclusion that he carried a loaded gun to a crowded place where his own guests had gathered to attend the marriage ceremony. He did not take any reasonable safety measures like to fire the shot in the air or towards the sky, rather he invited full risk and aimed the gun towards the roof and fired the shot. He was expected to know that pellets could cause multiple gunshot injuries to the nearby persons even if a single shot was fired. As such by his act the applicant has himself brought his case under the purview of offence under Section 299 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishable under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Keeping in mind the valuable right of personal liberty and the fundamental principle not to disbelieve a person to be innocent unless held guilty and if he is not arraigned with the charge of an offence for which the law has put on him a reverse burden of proving his innocence, as it is held in the judgment of the Supreme Court in Dataram Singh Vs. State of U.P and ors reported in (2018) 3 SCC 22, the Court found force in the submission of counsel for the bail applicant to enlarge him on bail.

Keeping into mind the grief and bereavement of the family who have lost their daughter, though the accused-applicant in the case may be granted order to be released on bail but some conditions also need to be encumbered on him in a bid to compensate to the bereaved family to an insignificant extent, the Court said.

The Court ordered that,

Let the accused-applicant (Sri Krishna Rathor) involved in Case under Section 304 of the IPC, registered at Police Station Sandana, District Sitapur be released on bail only on paying of Rs 5,00,000 through a bank draft in the name of mother of the deceased namely Shanti Devi W/o Ramnath and on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1,00,000 and two reliable sureties of the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned subject to following additional conditions, which are being imposed in the interest of justice:-

(i) If proceeding for cancellation of an armed license is not done, the District Magistrate, Sitapur is required to initiate proceedings in accordance with law for the purpose to cancel the arm license of the accused-applicant in circumstances of the case.

(ii) The applicant shall file an undertaking to the effect that he shall not seek any adjournment on the dates fixed for evidence when the witnesses are present in court. In case of default of this condition, it shall be open for the trial court to treat it as abuse of liberty of bail and pass orders in accordance with law.

(iii) The applicant shall remain present before the trial court on each date fixed, either personally or through his counsel. In case of his absence, without sufficient cause, the trial court may proceed against him under Section 229-A of the Indian Penal Code.

(iv) In case, the applicant misuse the liberty of bail during trial and in order to secure his presence, proclamation under Section 82 CrPC is issued and if the applicant fails to appear before the court on the date fixed in such proclamation, then, the trial court shall initiate proceedings against him, in accordance with law, under Section 174-A of the Indian Penal Code.

(v) The applicant shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on the dates fixed for (i) opening of the case, (ii) framing of charge and (iii) recording of statement under Section 313 CrPC. If in the opinion of the trial court absence of the applicant is deliberate or without sufficient cause, then it shall be open for the trial court to treat such default as abuse of liberty of bail and proceed against him in accordance with law.

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