SC crit­i­cises HC or­der for in­volv­ing re­li­gion

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION - Ashok Ba­griya let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has crit­i­cised a Bom­bay high court or­der that seemed to sug­gest, while grant­ing bail to three ac­cused in a mur­der case, that they had been pro­voked “in the name of re­li­gion”.

On Fe­bru­ary 8, the SC set aside the high court or­der that re­leased on bail the three ac­cused in the mur­der of Punebased techie Mohsin Shaikh in 2014. The three are part of rightwing or­gan­i­sa­tion Hindu Rash­tra Sena and had re­port­edly at­tended an in­flam­ma­tory meet­ing just be­fore they ac­costed and killed Shaikh. The meet­ing hap- pened in the back­ground of com­mu­nal clashes in Pune.

While the SC’S de­ci­sion to quash the high court or­der was re­ported on Fe­bru­ary 8 it­self, it is only now that the apex court’s or­der has been up­loaded on its site — and it shows the top court’s dis­plea­sure.

Tak­ing ex­cep­tion to the high court or­der, the SC bench of jus­tice SA Bobde and jus­tice L Nageswar Rao said that the high court judge should have re­frained from record­ing rea­sons that ap­pear to jus­tify the mur­der of the vic­tim in the name of re­li­gion. The bench said, “We have no doubt that a court fully con­scious of the plu­ral com­po­si­tion of the coun­try, while called upon to deal with rights of var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties, can­not make such ob­ser­va­tions which may ap­pear to be coloured with a bias for or against a com­mu­nity.”

The SC records in its or­der that it is at pains to un­der­stand why it (high court) said that “the fault of the de­ceased were only that he be­longed to an­other re­li­gion” and fur­ther why the judge said “I con­sider this fac­tor in favour of the ap­pli­cants/ ac­cused”.

“We find that the afore­said rea­son can, on a fair read­ing, be un­der­stood or mis­un­der­stood al­most as a mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stance or a kind of a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the mur­der and it is ob­vi­ous fact that the de­ceased be­longed to a cer­tain com­mu­nity can­not be a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for any as­sault much less a mur­der,” the bench said, or­der­ing the im­me­di­ate ar­rest of the ac­cused last week.

The three ac­cused — Vi­jay Gamb­hire, Ganesh Ya­dav and Ajay Lalge — are among the 21 ac­tivists of the Hindu Rash­tra Sena, in­clud­ing their leader Dhana­jay Jayram De­sai, who were booked in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of the soft­ware en­gi­neer in Hadap­sar on June 2, 2014.

Shaikh was at­tacked by a mob dur­ing vi­o­lence that erupted over a so­cial me­dia post. Around half-an-hour be­fore the at­tack, De­sai was al­legedly ad­dress­ing a meet­ing that in­sti­gated the au­di­ence to vi­o­lence.

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