Monday, December 11, 2023

Supreme Court issues notice in plea against bail granted to Uttar Pradesh honour killing co-accused

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The Supreme Court has issued notice in a plea filed by a woman seeking cancellation of bail granted to her paternal uncle, accused of conspiring with other accused who allegedly killed her husband in a honour killing.  

An FIR was lodged against the four on the statement made by deceased Devi Dayal against Vinay Mishra, Pranshu Mishra, Upendra @ Chhote Mishra and Atulya Mishra. 

The two-judge bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant has issued notice to Uttar Pradesh Government and her paternal uncle Manikant Mishra. 

The Supreme Court heard the plea of Deepti Mishra, panchayat officer posted in Lucknow and the wife of the deceased, sought cancellation of bail of her paternal uncle Manikant Mishra for conspiring with the other accused in killing her husband because he had married her. 

Petitioner’s Advocate M.S. Arya submitted that Manikant Mishra has been in jail from July 25, 2021.

Also Read: Supreme Court reverses HC order acquitting man from murder case

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud opined, “It’s an honour killing, we look and take it strictly.” The bench asked whether there Manikant Mishra had any role.

Justice Chandrachud: “We are testing whether we should exercise this power enshrined under Article 136 to use sparingly.”

Counsel M.S. Arya stated that on 14.2.2020, when Manikant came to know about Deepti Mishra’s marriage with deceased, he threatened to kill them. His two sons are directly involved in this. 

Justice Kant asked:

“Are they the same persons who are in custody? You should make specific allegations in FIR that he conspired with other co-accused persons. Unless you make specific allegation of conspiracy, it becomes tough to prove that Manikant was directly involved in brutal murder of your husband. You tried to implicate 16 persons. Only 4 of them found held in committing murder, after investigation got completed.”

Justice Chandrachud said, “We cannot say that everybody in the family should go to jail, we have to look prima facie, if case is made out or not, we take this matter seriously.”  

Petitioner Deepti Mishra contended that Manikant Mishra is the main conspirator.

J. Chandrachud asked: “Tell us, any material you can show whether he was involved in conspiracy?”

Also Read: Supreme Court dismisses rape victim’s plea against bail granted to man accused of raping her

The High Court, setting aside the trial court order dated 19.08.2021 of rejection of bail, granted bail to Manikant Mishra and imposed the condition that if he is seen anywhere near Deepti Mishra or her child or try to make contact with informant, his bail will be immediately cancelled.

The Allahabad High Court noted that Manikant Mishra was not named as an assailant. Further he was implicated upon the statement of Deepti Mishra, wife of the deceased Devi Dayal, and there was no credible evidence available against Manikant Mishra, which can justify the charges of criminal conspiracy.

The High Court while granting bail to Manikant Mishra categorically observed:

“Statement may not establish the charge of criminal conspiracy to commit the heinous offence of honour killing in a public place, even on a prima facie consideration. No other credible material appears to exist to implicate the present appellant in the offence. Mere phone call made to/by a co accused (closely related), may not establish criminal conspiracy.”

The Bench was of the view that statement of Deepti Mishra will not establish the charge of criminal conspiracy in carrying out the heinous offence of honour killing in a public place. Contentions of counsel before Allahabad High Court was that Manikant Mishra did not evade arrest, no criminal antecedents.

Also Read: Rajya Sabha MP P Wilson calls on CJI NV Ramana, submits letter for establishing Supreme Court regional benches

Manikant Mishra, preferred criminal appeal u/s 14 of SC & ST Act,1989 to set aside trial court order ,wherein the petitioner was arrested in case Crime No. 291 of 2021, under Sections – 302, 307, 506, 120-B I.P.C. and Section 3(2)5 S.C./S.T. (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Police Station Gola, District Gorakhpur.

Some conditions were imposed upon Manikant Mishra at the time of granting bail such as not tampering with prosecution witnesses, co-operating in the trial without seeking any adjournments, non-indulgence in any criminal activity after being released on bail, no contact with any member of deceased family either in person or through social media.

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