Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Jammu & Kashmir High Court rejects bail plea of Armyman accused of abetting minor girl’s suicide

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The Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail application of Army man charged with abetment of suicide of a minor girl.

Justice Javed Iqbal Wani passed the order while hearing a bail application filed by Ranjit Singh. The petitioner had sought bail in FIR registered at Police Station, Arnia, for commission of offences punishable under Sections 305/376 IPC read with Section 3/4 of the POCSO Act.

According to the prosecution, on July 27, 2018 at 16:30 hours PCR, Jammu, telephonically informed the PCR Arnia, that a woman consumed poison and passed away during treatment at GMC Jammu in suspicious conditions requiring ascertainment of her death whereupon the Inquiry Officer completed all formalities at GMC Jammu and handed over the body to her family for last rites.

Statements of witnesses are stated to have been recorded and viscera of the deceased sent to FSL Jammu for chemical analysis. The mother of the deceased is stated to have presented one hand written letter and diary of the deceased to the enquiry officer, who upon seizing it is stated to have sent the same to FSL Jammu.

During the course of enquiry, the birth certificate of the deceased is stated to have been received by the enquiry officer revealing her date of birth as January 5, 2002 showing her to be a minor. After conducting the enquiry and taking into account the statement of mother of the deceased as also other witnesses, inquest proceedings are stated to have been converted into registration of an FIR under Sections 376/306 IPC at Police Station, Arnia.

During investigation in the said FIR, the statement of mother of the deceased under Section 164 CrPC is stated to have been got recorded and on the basis of statements, school certificate of deceased, accused was found to have committed offence under Sections 305/376 IPC read with 3/4 of the POCSO Act.

The accused is stated to have been arrested on April 18, 2021 while serving in Indian Army and is found to have been misleading the deceased on the pretext of marriage intentionally and manipulating her physical, mental relations without her consent having married somewhere else resulting into the committing of suicide by the deceased.

Before presentation of chargesheet on April 24, 2021, in the court of Special Judge (POCSO cases) Jammu, the petitioner/accused had filed a bail application on April 19, 2021 initially before the court of Principal District and Sessions Judge, Jammu, where after same had had been assigned for consideration to the trial court on April 26, 2021. The said bail application came to be rejected by the trial court on June 23, 2021.

It is stated that offences alleged to have been committed by the petitioner/accused are not made out and that the trial court rejected the bail application of the petitioner without appreciating true facts as also the legal position. The accused/petitioner is stated to be a married person and during his incarceration, his wife is stated to have given birth to a girl child on June 12, 2021.

The accused/petitioner is stated to have participated in the investigation, and is stated to have deep roots in the society being an Army personnel and his detention is likely to render him to lose his job and deprive him from looking after his family including old aged parents.

The counsel for the petitioner while reiterating the contentions raised and grounds urged in the application insist for grant of bail in favour of the accused/petitioner whereas, the counsel for the respondents per contra controvert and resist the application on the basis of objections filed and oppose the grant of bail to the accused/petitioner.

The Court noted, “The grounds urged by the accused/petitioner for bail is based on the contentions that there is no direct evidence connecting the petitioner with the commission of alleged offence and that the offence alleged to have been committed by the petitioner are not made out and that the whole case setup against the petitioner is based upon circumstantial evidence and that the statements of the mother of deceased including one related under Section 164 CrPC.

Admittedly a minor girl of the age of 16 years has died otherwise than under normal circumstances who allegedly has attributed reasons thereof to the petitioner herein while divulging the same to her mother during the last hours of her life on way to the hospital as also allegedly having written the same in her diary. There is no explanation offered by the petitioner in the petition in response to the said allegations. The chain of events revealed from the prosecution case do prima-facie at this stage connect the accused/petitioner with the commission of alleged offences.

The Court held that, here an excerpt from the judgement of the Apex court passed in “Neeru Yadav‟s” case supra, at the cost of risking repetition requires to be extracted hereunder having regard to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, with respect to the question of the liberty of an individual as against the norms of the society.

“The general contentions and grounds urged by the accused/ petitioner that he did not commit the alleged offence and that there is no direct evidence connecting him with the commission of alleged offence or that the case of prosecution is based on circumstantial evidence cannot alone be taken into account at this stage, either discarding or else overlooking the evidence collected by the prosecution during the investigation being part of the charge sheet against the accused /petitioner herein and same in view of the principles laid down by the Apex court in the judgements supra particularly regarding nature of accusation, severity of punishment in case of conviction and nature of supporting evidence as also reasonable apprehension of tampering with witness or apprehension of threat to complainant, have to be considered before grant of bail. The petitioner herein is not entitled to bail at this stage,” the Court observed while dismissing the bail application.

“In view of above the plea of applicability of Section 29 of the POCSO Act, urged by the counsel for the respondents to the case of the petitioner setup in the petition even at pre charge stage while considering the petition and denied by the counsel for the petitioner pales into insignificance and as such, need not be addressed to. It is, however, made clear that any observation made herein above shall not be construed to be expression of any opinion about the guilt or innocence of the accused/petitioner herein,” the order reads.

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