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India cannot have 2 parallel legal systems, one for rich, other for poor: Supreme Court

The bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah had directed the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh, to arrest Govind Singh, husband of BSP MLA Rambai Singh from Patharia in the state's Damoh district, in the murder case of Congress leader Devendra Chaurasia

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday cancelled the bail application of a man accused in the murder case of Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Devendra Chaurasia, while stating that the country cannot have two parallel legal systems – one for the rich, powerful and politically influential; and the other for the common man.

The petition was filed by Devendra’s son Somesh Chaurasia. Earlier on March 12, the bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah had directed the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh, to arrest the accused in the case Govind Singh, husband of BSP MLA Rambai Singh from Patharia in the state’s Damoh district.

The facts of the case indicate that despite the registration of an FIR on March 15, 2019, wherein Chaurasia’s son Somesh has alleged that Govind Singh was complicit in the murder of his father, no steps have been taken by the investigating authorities to arrest him, noted the Court.

The bench said the present case was fit for cancellation of bail. The High Court ignored material concerns while granting bail. The Court said that the investigation in the FIR should have been allowed to proceed and the High Court Order had the effect of interference in investigation of the FIR. 

The Supreme Court categorically stated that the Madhya Pradesh Police have been complicit in shielding Govind Singh. His spouse, who is an MLA, was provided security in the state but the DGP informed this court that the accused could not be arrested. 

The top court of the country has directed to move the murder accused Govind Singh to a different jail, to ensure the fair process of law is not affected. 

“If the faith of citizens is to be preserved, we need to look at the district judiciary. Trial Judges work in very difficult conditions. Colonial mindset towards district judiciary needs to change. The District judiciary is the first line of defence for people,” the Court noted in its order. 

“Independence of judiciary means independence of each Judge. District Judges need to be independent, also of their superiors in the judiciary. Independence from external influence and control. India cannot have two parallel legal systems – one for the rich and powerful and politically influential, and the other for common man,” it added. 

The Supreme Court had asked the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh to conduct inquiry into allegations of the Additional Sessions Judge in the Govind Singh case. The ASJ had informed the apex court that he was apprehensive about his safety. 

The Supreme Court had, on July 12, 2021, reserved its verdict on a petition filed by the Congress leader’s son, alleging the role of State Machinery in protecting the murder accused of his father. 

The Court had, on previous occasions, noted “Despite its clear directions in order dated March 12, to arrest the husband of a sitting BSP MLA in connection with a 2019 murder case, the MP Police have not been able to apprehend and arrest the accused.”

The Apex Court had termed the affidavit completely “unacceptable,” which was filed by the Director General of Madhya Pradesh Police. 

“It defies reasons as to how an accused, who is the spouse of a sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly, has not been arrested, despite being arraigned in pursuance of the provisions of Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 to face trial for an offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code 1860,” said the bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah on March 26, 2021. 

The Court had also noted that the accused was even given Police Security, which has now been withdrawn, as per the affidavit of the DG Police. The court has given the final opportunity to the state’s DG to comply with the previous order of the Court, failing which the Court will take coercive steps in accordance with the law. Further, the Court has directed the DG Police to file an additional affidavit setting out;

A) The date on which and the cause on the basis of which security was granted to the accused;

B) Whether the security continues to be provided as of the date; and 

C) If not, the date on which the security was withdrawn. 

The Court in its previous order of March 12, had also took note of the alleged harassment of a judicial officer by the Damoh SP and asked the state DGP to inquire into the allegations levelled by the ASJ. The ASJ had arrayed Govind Singh as an accused under Section 319 (power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of an offence) of CrPC. 

The Court had noted, “The order of the Additional Judge furnishes reasons for taking steps in pursuance of the provisions of Section 319 to arraign the second respondent as an accused. The Additional Session Judge notes that though he was taking action in compliance with the directions issued by this Court for ensuring service of the second respondent, he was being obstructed.”

The ASJ, in its order date January 8, 2021, had claimed the accused “were leveling false allegations against him,” adding that he had applied for a transfer from the case as well, which was dismissed by the district judge. He had also noted that he is being pressurised by the SP Damoh and his subordinates. 

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The Supreme Court had noted in its order, “We take serious note of the manner in which the Additional Sessions Judge, Hata, who is in charge of the criminal case, has been harassed by the law enforcement machinery in Damoh. We have no reason to disbelieve a judicial officer, who has made an impassioned plea that he was being pressurized, as a result of his orders under Section 319 of CrPC. The state, which had moved the High Court for cancellation of the bail which was granted to the second respondent as an incident of suspension of sentence on February 3, 2016, has failed to apprehend the second respondent, who continues to evade arrest. A warrant of arrest was issued against the second respondent.”

The Court had also directed the Director General of Police of the State of Madhya Pradesh to immediately ensure the arrest of the second respondent and report compliance by filing a personal affidavit in this Court. The DGP shall also enquire into the allegations levelled by the second respondent against the Superintendent of Police, Damoh by the Additional Sessions Judge in his order dated February 8, 2021, noted above, said the Court.  

The Court had directed to provide adequate security to R P Sonkar, Second Additional Sessions Judge, Hata, District Damoh.

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