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Bail Application – offences under Sections 121, 124(1) and 120B of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 8 (1) (2) (3) of the Chhattisgarh Jansuraksha Adhiniyam and Sections 10 & 13 of the Unlawful Activities of the Act. – High court too refused to give bail – Apex court granted conditional bail – other accused on bail – appellants on interim bail with conditions – charge sheet not filed – all previous cases of similar nature resulted in acquittal – lady accused suffering with aliments – husband died – children are of tender age – another accused is a young person – tend his mindset towards the stream of society – Granted conditional bail pending trial and set aside the High court order = Lingaram Kodopi …………….Appellant(s) Versus State of Chhattisgarh …………….Respondent(s) =2014 ( Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41210

Bail Application – offences under Sections 121, 124(1) and 120B of the Indian Penal

 Code as well as Section 8 (1) (2) (3) of the  Chhattisgarh  Jansuraksha Adhiniyam and Sections 10 & 13 of the Unlawful Activities of  the  Act.  – High court too refused to give bail – Apex court granted conditional bail – other accused on bail – appellants on interim bail with conditions – charge sheet not filed – all previous cases of similar nature resulted in acquittal – lady accused suffering with aliments – husband died – children are of tender age – another accused is a young person – tend his mindset towards the stream of society – Granted conditional bail pending trial and set aside the High court order =

 

Since in the present appeals, we  are  only  concerned  with  the issue of grant of bail to the appellants pending trial, it may  not  be necessary to deal with the arguments of the Counsel for the parties  on either side, in detail, for obvious reasons.

We would like to refer  to the orders  dated  12.11.2013  passed  for  these  proceedings  whereby

     interim bail was granted to both the appellants

Relevant  portions  of

     the said order reads as follows:

“It has been stated by the learned Counsel for  the  petitioners

           that the petitioner-Lingaram Kodopi – in Special Leave  Petition

           (Criminal) No. 7898 of  2013  has  been  in  custody  since  9th

           September, 2011 and 

the petitioner – Soni Sori in Special  Leave

           Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013 has been in  custody  since

           4th October, 2011. 

Since it is going to take some time before  a

           responsible officer can be present in  Court  in  assisting  the

           examination of the record, we are of the opinion that  it  would

           be unjust to  continue  the  incarceration  of  the  petitioners

           during the pendency of the applications for bail.  

We  are  also

           mindful of the fact that Soni Sori, petitioner in Special  Leave

           Petition (Criminal )No. 7913 of 2013 has been acquitted in  five

           earlier cases. 

Similarly, petitioner Lingaram Kodopi in  Special

           Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013 was also acquitted in

           the earlier matter. 

It has also been stated that B.K. Lala,  co-

           accused has also been granted bail on  4th  February,  2012.  

In

           these circumstances, we are of the  opinion  that  it  would  be

           appropriate to  direct  that  the  petitioners  be  released  on

           interim bail during  the  pendency  of  the  bail  applications.

           

However, keeping in view the submissions made by Mr. V.A. Mohta,

           learned Senior Counsel appearing for the State of  Chhattisgarh,

           

it would be in the interests  of  justice  to  direct  that  the

           petitioners shall not enter the State of Chhattisgarh during the

           period in which they are granted interim  bail.  

It  is  ordered

           accordingly.

                      At this stage, it has been brought to out  notice  by

           Mr. Colin Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel  appearing  for  the

           petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013

           and Mr. Prashant Bhushan,  learned  Counsel  appearing  for  the

           petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal  )  No.  7898  of

           2013 

that the petitioners have not met their families for a long

           time and it would be only humane if they are permitted  to  meet

           their families before they travel to Delhi.



                      In view of the above, 

we direct the concerned  Senior

           Superintendent of  Police to  depute  some  responsible  police

           officers to escort the petitioners to their respective  villages

           so that they can meet their families for a period of  24  hours.

           On the following day,  the  petitioners  shall  be  escorted  to

           Delhi. 

They shall be permitted to  reside  in  any  locality  of

           their choice in Delhi. 

Once the petitioners  reach  Delhi,  they

           are directed to report to the  in-charge  of  the  local  Police

           Station once a week. 

They shall report to the in-charge  of  the

           local Police Station every Sunday at 11.00 a.m.”

 

15.      On the basis of the aforesaid orders, both the appellants  are  on

    bail with the  condition  that  they  would  not  enter  the  State  of

    Chhattisgarh during this period. 

Other two accused persons have already

    been granted bail. 

Charges  are yet to be framed. Soni Sori  is  having

    medical problems as well. 

There are certain circumstances,  pleaded  by

    the  appellants,  and  if  ultimately  established,  there  may  be   a

    possibility of proving the innocence of the appellants. 

Soni  Sori  has

    lost her husband and has to look after her children who are  of  tender

    ages. 

Lingaram Kodopi, who is a young man of 24  years,  claims  to  be

    genuinely attempting to establish himself as  a  good  citizen  in  the

    society. 

Taking into consideration all these circumstances cumulatively

    and going by the past history, as demonstrated by both the Counsel  for

    the appellants, we are of the opinion that the appellants deserve to be

    enlarged on bail during the pendency of trial  on  furnishing  personal

    securities in the sum of Rs. 50,000/- with two  sureties  each  of  the

    like amount, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.

16.      At the same time, we agree with Mr. Mohta  that  there  should  be

    some  stringent  conditions  for  grant  of  bail  to  the  appellants.

    Accordingly, 

we order that it would be subject to  the  condition  that

    the appellants shall report to the concerned police station once a week

    i.e. at 10.30 a.m. on every Monday to show their presence.  They  would

    be permitted to take along their lawyer.  Further,  they  shall  appear

    before the Trial Court on each and every date of hearing and shall  not

    seek exemption except when on a particular  date  they  are  unable  to

    appear because of the reasons beyond their control, like  illness  etc.

    They shall also inform the Court about their place of  stay/  residence

    and disclose to the Court as to when there is a  change  of  residence.

    Further, they shall not leave the station or travel abroad without  the

    prior permission of the trial court.

 

 

17.        These appeals are disposed of in the aforesaid terms.

  

 

2014 ( Feb.Part)  judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41210                                SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR, A.K. SIKRI                     

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 357 OF 2014
[Arising out of Special Leave to Appeal (Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013]
Lingaram Kodopi
…………….Appellant(s)
Versus
State of Chhattisgarh
…………….Respondent(s)
With
Criminal Appeal No. 358 of 2014
[@ Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013]
J U D G M E N T
A.K. SIKRI, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. Both these appeals arise out of common order dated 8.7.2013
passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh, whereby applications for bail
preferred by these two appellants were rejected.
3. Appellants are related to each other. The appellant Lingaram
Kodopi is the nephew of the appellant Soni Sori (Lingaram’s father and
Soni Sori’s husband were the real brothers). Both these appellants have
been implicated under Sections 121, 124(1) and 120B of the Indian Penal
Code as well as Section 8 (1) (2) (3) of the Chhattisgarh Jansuraksha
Adhiniyam and Sections 10 & 13 of the Unlawful Activities of the Act.
For the alleged offence under the aforesaid provisions crime No.
26/2011 with Police Station Kuakonda district Dantewada, Chhattisgarh
is registered against them alongwith certain other persons. Both have
been arrested in connection with the aforesaid case.
4. In nut-shell the prosecution case is that on 8.9.2011, the
concerned police received secret information that these appellants are
likely to work as conduit for paying huge amount to the Naxalties,
which was to be paid by Essar Company through co-accused B.K. Lala, a
contractor of the said company, whose plant was operating in the naxal
affected areas. The concerned police conducted a raid when these two
appellants were in the process of receiving the amount of Rs. 15 lakhs
from B.K. Lala at village Palnar weekly market at 1.00 p.m. on
9.9.2011. When the police party reached, a pandemonium took place and
taking advantage thereof Soni Sori successfully escaped. However,
Lingaram Kodopi and co-accused B.K. Lala were arrested from the spot.
The appellant Soni Sori was also arrested afterwards on 12.10.2011 in
Delhi.
5. As per the prosecution, in the present case different aspects of
naxal movements had appeared wherein these naxalites receiving huge
amount of money from Corporate groups to further their activities of
waging war against the country. Shri B.K. Lala, Accused No. 1 in this
case is a contractor of Essar Company who was supposed to pay money to
these naxalites. Both the appellants were made conduits to receive
money from B.K. Lala so that they could hand it over to the concerned
naxalite persons. Apart from B.K. Lala and the two appellants, one DVCS
Verma who is the General Manager of Essar Company has also been
implicated in the said case.
6. These two other accused persons, viz. Shri B.K. Lala as well as
Shri DVCS Verma were also arrested. However, both have since been
enlarged on bail, Shri B.K. Lala who was arrested on 9.9.2011 was
granted statutory bail on 4.2.2012, on the ground that charge-sheet was
not filed until after 90 days from the date of registration of FIR.
Shri DVCS Verma was granted bail on 3.1.2012. These two appellants
however were denied bail by the Trial Court and, as mentioned above,
even the High Court has rejected their bail applications. From the
perusal of the order of the High Court it becomes clear that the
High Court has mainly been influenced by the serious nature of
crime allegedly committed by these appellants. The High Court also took
note of the statements of certain witnesses which were recorded during
investigation and went through the case diary. As per the High Court
since direct evidence was available against these accused persons
showing their complicity, there was a prima facie evidence against the
appellants to the effect that they were found to be working as conduit
between Essar Company through B.K. Lala and the naxalites.
7. In support of plea for bail on behalf of Soni Sori, Mr. Colin
Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel made detailed submissions, with lot
of emphasis that the appellants were falsely implicated in this case
because of previous animosity with the police authorities, of which
they had become the victims over a period of time without any fault of
theirs. It was argued that though the appellants were accused of
collecting money for naxalites, in the entire charge-sheet and the
evidence collected, there was no material which could show any link of
these appellants with the naxalites. Mr. Gonsalves referred to the
details of the case which was foisted against him by the police on
previous occasions and in all these cases she was acquitted by the
courts. According to him, the appellant Soni Sori had shown courage in
filing Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 206 of 2011 in the High Court of
Chhattisgarh which had become the cause of anguish for Chhattisgarh
police. In that Writ Petition she stated that she was tribal woman from
Village Sameli in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Her nephew Mr.
Lingaram Kodopi on 31.8.2009 was kidnapped by the Chhattisgarh police
and forced to become a Special Police Officer (SPO). She, therefore,
through the brother of Lingaram, organized and filed a Writ Petition
(habeas corpus) No. 5469 of 2009 before the Chhattisgarh High Court as
a result of which Mr. Lingaram was released from custody. He thereafter
became a journalist and participated in several TV programmes on the
massacres and killings taking place in Chhattisgarh and he also took
photographs of the houses of the tribals that were burnt by the
Chhattisgarh police and these photographs were printed in magazines. As
a consequence she incurred the wrath of police who started filing
series of false cases against the appellant Soni Sori. Details of these
cases are given in Para 8 of the ‘Synopsis’ to the Special Leave
Petition.
8. Mr. Gonsalves further submitted that in September, 2011,
Tehelka Magazine did a sting operation of the conversation which took
place between the appellant and constable Mankar of the Kirandul police
station, in which constable Mankar admitted in a phone conversation
that the appellant, Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi were being
framed in the Essar case, and that Lingaram Kodopi was picked up from
the house and not from the bazaar. The appellants have filed the copy
of the CD with transcription and excerpts of the conversation are
reproduced in the SLP paper book as well. On that basis his submission
was that this sting operation was enough to show that the appellants
were framed falsely in the entire case.
9. To buttress this submission of false implication, Mr. Gonsalves
also pointed out that the appellant Soni Sori who was a teacher in a
Government School had in fact been attending the school which was clear
from the attendance register filed as Annexure P-1 to the SLP. Mr.
Gonsalves also highlighted the atrocity committed on her by the police
during her custody, particularly on 8.10.2011. He also submitted that
because of the torture she suffered at the hands of police during
interrogation on that day, her health deteriorated and she had to be
admitted into the Dantewada district hospital at 9.30 a.m. on
10.10.2011. When she was taken to the Court on that day at 1.45 p.m.
she was not even in a position to stand and walk. The police informed
the Magistrate by falsely stating that she had suffered a fall in the
bathroom. From the court she was taken to Jagdalpur Jail from where she
was taken to Maharani hospital from Jagdalpur and admitted there at
8.00 p.m. On 12.10.2011 she was referred to Bhim Rao Ambedkar Medical
College, Raipur.
10. Mr. Gonsalves also referred to the proceedings in Writ Petition
(Crl.) No. 206 of 2011 pending in this Court wherein the aforesaid
worsening health condition of Soni Sori was explained and on 20.10.2011
this Court directed that she be taken to Kolkata and admitted in Nil
Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata. The Court also
observed, while giving this direction, that the injuries sustained by
her do not prima facie appear to be simple as had been projected by the
Chhattisgarh Police. After the examination of Soni Sori by the
aforesaid hospital in Kolkata and receiving the report from the said
hospital, on 2.5.2012 this Court directed the Director of All India
Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to constitute a Board of
Directors, which would include the Head of the Department of
Gynaecology, Endocrinology and the Cardiac Department, to examine Ms.
Soni Sori, as to her physical condition and, thereafter, to recommend
the treatment to be undergone in AIIMS itself. At AIIMS she was treated
for “vulval excoriations and scabies” and thereafter transferred to
Raipur Central Prison and then to Jagdalpur Central Prison.
11. Mr. Gonsalves also argued that even other family members of Soni
Sori have been tortured by the police. According to him, when Soni Sori
was in custody her husband Anil Futane was arrested in July, 2010 and
he suffered a paralytic stroke while in custody as a result of torture.
There are in all four cases in which he was charged for maoist. His
last acquittal order came on 1.5.2013 and thereafter he died in
mysterious circumstances on 1.8.2013. He thus, submitted that after the
death of her husband there was nobody in the family to look after her
children whose condition had become miserable in the absence of any
adult person to take care of them.
12. Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned Counsel appearing for Lingaram
Kodopi, in addition, highlighted the circumstances under which his
client became the target of Chhattisgarh Police which had forced him to
become a Special Police Officer (SPO). This was the reason for Soni
Sori to file Writ Petition (Crl.) 206 of 2011. Mr. Bhushan also sought
to narrate in detail the same kind of witch hunting, resorted to by the
police qua Lingaram, filing series of false cases against him as well
and he was acquitted in all these cases.
13. Mr. V.A. Mohta, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the State
submitted that by well reasoned order, the High Court had rejected the
bail application of the appellants herein. He further submitted that as
per the prosecution cases, on previous date confidential information
was received from the IB that the appellants are going to receive money
from B.K. Lala on 10.9.2011. B.K. Lala as well as Lingaram were nabbed
on the spot whereas Soni Sori escaped. He also submitted that the main
reason for acquittal of these appellants in other cases was that the
witnesses do not come to Court for deposition as they fear threat to
their own life. Though he did not deny that the bail was already
granted to B.K. Lala and DVCS Verma, he however, submitted that if
because of not handling the cases properly they were granted bail, same
benefit should not be extended to the appellants.
14. Since in the present appeals, we are only concerned with the
issue of grant of bail to the appellants pending trial, it may not be
necessary to deal with the arguments of the Counsel for the parties on
either side, in detail, for obvious reasons. We would like to refer to
the orders dated 12.11.2013 passed for these proceedings whereby
interim bail was granted to both the appellants. Relevant portions of
the said order reads as follows:
“It has been stated by the learned Counsel for the petitioners
that the petitioner-Lingaram Kodopi – in Special Leave Petition
(Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013 has been in custody since 9th
September, 2011 and the petitioner – Soni Sori in Special Leave
Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013 has been in custody since
4th October, 2011. Since it is going to take some time before a
responsible officer can be present in Court in assisting the
examination of the record, we are of the opinion that it would
be unjust to continue the incarceration of the petitioners
during the pendency of the applications for bail. We are also
mindful of the fact that Soni Sori, petitioner in Special Leave
Petition (Criminal )No. 7913 of 2013 has been acquitted in five
earlier cases. Similarly, petitioner Lingaram Kodopi in Special
Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013 was also acquitted in
the earlier matter. It has also been stated that B.K. Lala, co-
accused has also been granted bail on 4th February, 2012. In
these circumstances, we are of the opinion that it would be
appropriate to direct that the petitioners be released on
interim bail during the pendency of the bail applications.
However, keeping in view the submissions made by Mr. V.A. Mohta,
learned Senior Counsel appearing for the State of Chhattisgarh,
it would be in the interests of justice to direct that the
petitioners shall not enter the State of Chhattisgarh during the
period in which they are granted interim bail. It is ordered
accordingly.
At this stage, it has been brought to out notice by
Mr. Colin Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the
petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013
and Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned Counsel appearing for the
petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal ) No. 7898 of
2013 that the petitioners have not met their families for a long
time and it would be only humane if they are permitted to meet
their families before they travel to Delhi.
In view of the above, we direct the concerned Senior
Superintendent of Police to depute some responsible police
officers to escort the petitioners to their respective villages
so that they can meet their families for a period of 24 hours.
On the following day, the petitioners shall be escorted to
Delhi. They shall be permitted to reside in any locality of
their choice in Delhi. Once the petitioners reach Delhi, they
are directed to report to the in-charge of the local Police
Station once a week. They shall report to the in-charge of the
local Police Station every Sunday at 11.00 a.m.”
15. On the basis of the aforesaid orders, both the appellants are on
bail with the condition that they would not enter the State of
Chhattisgarh during this period. Other two accused persons have already
been granted bail. Charges are yet to be framed. Soni Sori is having
medical problems as well. There are certain circumstances, pleaded by
the appellants, and if ultimately established, there may be a
possibility of proving the innocence of the appellants. Soni Sori has
lost her husband and has to look after her children who are of tender
ages. Lingaram Kodopi, who is a young man of 24 years, claims to be
genuinely attempting to establish himself as a good citizen in the
society. Taking into consideration all these circumstances cumulatively
and going by the past history, as demonstrated by both the Counsel for
the appellants, we are of the opinion that the appellants deserve to be
enlarged on bail during the pendency of trial on furnishing personal
securities in the sum of Rs. 50,000/- with two sureties each of the
like amount, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.
16. At the same time, we agree with Mr. Mohta that there should be
some stringent conditions for grant of bail to the appellants.
Accordingly, we order that it would be subject to the condition that
the appellants shall report to the concerned police station once a week
i.e. at 10.30 a.m. on every Monday to show their presence. They would
be permitted to take along their lawyer. Further, they shall appear
before the Trial Court on each and every date of hearing and shall not
seek exemption except when on a particular date they are unable to
appear because of the reasons beyond their control, like illness etc.
They shall also inform the Court about their place of stay/ residence
and disclose to the Court as to when there is a change of residence.
Further, they shall not leave the station or travel abroad without the
prior permission of the trial court.
17. These appeals are disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
…………………………………….J.
[S.S. NIJJAR]
…………………………………….J.
[A.K. SIKRI]
New Delhi
February 07, 2014

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