The Rajasthan High Court has granted bail to eighteen individuals accused of involvement in a communal clash that erupted in Chittorgarh on March 19, this year.

While acknowledging the complexities of identifying perpetrators during mob violence, the Court emphasized the impartiality of justice, irrespective of religious affiliations.

"There is no religion of a mob. When a large group of people is alleged to have committed an offence, it becomes very tedious task to make separation between the innocent and the real culprits," the Bench of Justice Farjand Ali observed.

The Single-Judge Bench made the observation while considering the Bail plea of the 18 accused, who were allegedly part of a mob that attacked participants of a Hindu procession, resulting in injuries and the unfortunate demise of an individual later that day. The Court underscored the challenges inherent in distinguishing between culpable individuals and innocent bystanders amidst the chaos of a mob attack.

The Court elucidated that amidst commotion, individuals may gather out of curiosity, fear, or simply to assess the situation, complicating the task of law enforcement in identifying the actual perpetrators. "Generally, when some noise is erupted in a crowded area, several persons gather there, some out of curiosity and some out of fear and some people may presumably come to see what exactly is going on. In such a chaotic situation, some times the real culprits make their escape good, whereas the mere onlookers may be booked," the Bench said.

The backdrop of the case involved a clash triggered by the pelting of stones at a Hindu religious procession, leading to injuries and the unfortunate demise of a participant. Subsequently, eighteen individuals were arrested on charges of orchestrating the attack with premeditated intent and employing deadly weapons. The charges against them under Sections 147, 148, 149, 341, 323, 336, 302, 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code and violations of Sections 3(1)(r) (s) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Following the rejection of their Bail plea by a Trial Court, the accused sought relief from the High Court.

In its ruling, the Court extended bail to the accused, acknowledging the debatable nature of the allegations under the SC/ST Act, which it deemed appropriate for the trial court to assess. "At this stage, it would be unsafe to make any comment regarding the culpability of the appellants. It is highly debatable whether the penal provisions of the SC/ST Act would attract or not and the same would be subject matter of the trial," it said.

Furthermore, the Court raised doubts regarding the cause of the deceased individual's demise, suggesting that it may have been due to a heart attack rather than injuries sustained during the clash. On perusal of the postmortem report of the deceased, the Court noted, "There is no opinion of the medical board regarding the cause of death. The viscera of the deceased have been preserved and sent for chemical examination. Probably the cause of death was heart attack or Myocardial infarction."

Considering the prolonged incarceration of the accused and the potential delay in concluding the criminal trial, the Court deemed it fit to grant bail. Emphasizing the need for expeditious judicial proceedings, the Court stated, "No fruitful purpose would be served by keeping them behind bars."

While allowing the Appeals, the Court ordered, "...the impugned orders are set aside. It is ordered that the accused appellants, named in the cause title, arrested in connection with aforesaid FIR, shall be released on bail, if not wanted in any other case, provided each of them furnishes a personal bond of Rs. 50,000/- and two sureties of Rs. 25,000/- each to the satisfaction of the learned trial Court with the stipulation to appear before that Court on all dates of hearing and as and when called upon to do so."

Cause Title: Babu Mohammed v. State of Rajasthan and Others [Neutral Citation: 2024:RJ-JD:22701]


Appellant: Senior Advocate Vineet Jain, Advocates Rajeev Bishnoi, Praveen Vyas, Usman Ghani, Padam Singh Solanki, D.G. Gaur

Respondent: Advocates Arun Kumar (AGA), Deepak Choudhary, Shivang Soni

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