Thursday, February 22, 2024

Orissa High Court denies anticipatory bail to man for raising slogans against Muslims, vandalising their shop during Hanuman Jayanti procession

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The High Court of Orissa has refused to grant anticipatory bail to a person, who allegedly raised slogans against a minority community and also led a group of people to attack a shoe shop owned by a Muslim during the Hanuman Jayanti procession last month in Sambalpur.

Noting that the grant of pre-arrest bail in the allegations made in the FIR would have a great ramification when the situation is volatile, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Chittaranjan Dash observed that it was not desirable to allow pre-arrest bail in favour of the petitioner before he was subjected to investigation/interrogation.

The High Court, after perusing the FIR, noted that there was nothing on ground to suggest that the petitioner held a prestigious position or was a person having a standing repute, so as to draw an inference that custodial interrogation would tarnish his clean image.

It said the petitioner was named in the FIR, along with others, who led the mob and attacked the shops as well as residential houses of the Muslim community. The Single-Judge Bench further took in view the fact that a riot took place thereafter leading to arson and bloodshed.

As per the High Court, the grant of anticipatory bail was bound to have a negative effect, especially when the situation was volatile and not completely normal to the date.

The incident took place on April 14 this year, during the commemoration of Hanuman Jayanti, while a procession was in progress in Sambalpur Town. 

Investigation revealed that around 50 individuals, taking advantage of the situation, vandalised a shop called New Alishan Shoe Centre and set it on fire. The miscreants were also heard allegedly raising abusive and provocative slogans against the minority community, deeply offending the religious sentiments of Muslims.

An FIR was lodged against the accused, including the petitioner, for allegedly ransacking the shop. It was further alleged that the petitioner led the group and had previously conspired to attack the shops and residential houses of the Muslim community in retaliation to some violent incidents that happened during a bike rally taken up by the Hanuman Jayanti Seva Samiti on April 12, 2023. 

The High Court was apprised that this led to a very alarming situation for which curfew had to be imposed in the entire Sambalpur Town. 

The petitioner approached the High Court seeking anticipatory bail as he apprehended his arrest in the matter. He contended that he had no role in the alleged incident and was falsely implicated in the case. There was nothing in the FIR to implicate him in the offences alleged, added the petitioner. 

The petitioner was represented by Advocate Manas Kumar Chand, while Additional Standing Counsel (ASC) Debasish Biswal appeared for the State of Orissa.

(Case title: Aniket Mishra vs State of Odisha)

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