Supreme Court Sets Aside Bail Of Student Leader Who Put Up 'BHAIYAA IS BACK' Posters After Getting Bail
A Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli passed orders canceling the bail granted to a student leader accused of rape.
The Accused had celebrated his release from detention by putting up posters of his photographs prominently displayed, with the faces of some influential persons of the society in the backdrop, welcoming him with captions like "Bhaiyaa is back", "Back to Bhaiyaa", and "Welcome to Role Janeman", with crown and heart emojis.
The Bench opined that "we are of the considered opinion that the respondent No. 2 does not deserve the concession of bail. Relevant material brought on record has been overlooked by the High Court while granting him bail. The supervening adverse circumstances referred to above, also warrant cancellation of bail."
Senior Advocate Mr. Siddharth Luthra appeared on behalf of the Accused. Deputy Advocate General Ms. Ankita Choudhary appeared on behalf of the State. Ms. Shikha Khurana appeared on behalf of the Appellant.
The allegations against the Accused were that he had induced the Appellant to establish a physical relationship with him on the false pretext of marrying her. He applied vermillion on the Appellant's forehead and convinced the Appellant that they were married as per Hindu rituals. Subsequently, the Appellant informed the Accused that she was pregnant. Along with his sister, the Accused took the Appellant to a private hospital and made her consume pills that caused an abortion, without her knowledge. The Appellant alleged that the Accused started avoiding the Appellant, and also refused to solemnize their marriage. An FIR was registered against the Accused.
All of the Accused's applications for anticipatory bail were rejected. After the charge sheet was filed, the High Court granted him regular bail. Aggrieved by this, the Appellant filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, seeking cancellation of this bail.
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the Appellant contended that no reasons were stated by the High Court for granting bail to the Accused. Further, it was argued that the High Court had not considered the criminal antecedents of the Accused and his father, who are in influential positions, which raises an apprehension of threat to the Appellant. The Counsel contended that the High Court had ignored material evidence like photographs of the Appellant and Accused in close proximity with vermillion on the Appellant's forehead, and photographs of the Appellant with the mother of the Accused. The Counsel asserted that the Appellant had given her consent to a physical relationship only after the Accused promised to marry her, but the promise was fake and the Accused had also got the Appellant's pregnancy forcibly terminated. The Counsel also contended that the Accused had started threatening the Appellant after being released on bail, and had also taken out a procession and had his photographs prominently displayed on posters to celebrate his release, especially in areas where the Appellant and her family frequented.
The Counsel appeared for the Accused and contended that the Accused had not made any false promises or intentional misrepresentation of marriage to the Appellant. The Counsel also drew the Court's attention to the unexplained delay in filing the FIR. Further, the Counsel alleged that the Appellant and her father were trying to blackmail the Accused, and pressurize him into marrying the Appellant. It was also argued that the posters had been put up almost three months after the bail was granted to the Accused, and it was evident that the posters were only put up to send greetings at a festival.
The Deputy Advocate General appearing on behalf of the State supported the appeal and submitted that the High Court had failed to consider that the Accused and his father are involved in other criminal cases, and this itself was sufficient ground to have rejected the bail application.
Through an analysis of a catena of judgments, like Daulat Ram and Others vs. State of Haryana, the Bench opined that in ordinary circumstances, the Supreme Court Court would be loath to interfere with an order passed by the Court below granting bail but if such an order was found to be illegal or perverse or premised on material that is irrelevant, then such an order would be susceptible to scrutiny and interference by the Appellate Court.
The Supreme Court found that the sole ground on which bail was granted by the High Court was that there was a delay on part of the Appellant in lodging the FIR, without offering any explanation.
Relying on the case of Ms. Y vs State of Rajasthan and Another, the Court held that absence of cogent reasons and failure to refer to relevant factors while granting bail can persuade the Appellate Court to interfere with the order passed.
The Court took note of the fact that the Appellant had not waivered and stuck to her version, and that the Accused had a previous criminal history.
To that end, the Court opined that "Even if it is assumed that the posters in question were not contemporaneous to the release of the respondent No.2 from detention, the captions tagged to his photographs on the social media highlight the superior position and power wielded by the respondent No.2 and his family in the society and its deleterious impact on the appellant/complainant. The emojis of crowns and hearts tagged with the captions quoted above are devoid of any religious sentiments sought to be portrayed by the respondent No.2. On the other hand, they amplify the celebratory mood of the respondent No.2 and his supporters on his having been released from detention in less than two months of being taken into custody for a grave offence that entails sentence of not less than ten years that may even extend to life. The brazen conduct of the respondent No.2 has evoked a bona fide fear in the mind of the appellant/complainant that she would not get a free and fair trial if he remains enlarged on bail and that there is a likelihood of his influencing the material witnesses. It is noteworthy that a representation has also been submitted by the appellant's father to the Superintendent of Police, District Jabalpur expressing the very same apprehension."
Allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court held that the Accused did not deserve the concession of bail, and directed the Accused to surrender within one week.