The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on May 15 the petition of Indian Youth Congress president B V Srinivas challenging the Gauhati High Court order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea in a case lodged by an expelled woman party leader of Assam accusing him of causing her mental agony.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice P S Narasimha, and Justice J B Pardiwala took note of the submissions of Senior
Advocate Devadatt Kama
t, appearing for Srinivas, that the plea needed an urgent hearing as he was being hounded in Assam.

"An opposition leader is being hounded in Assam," the senior lawyer said requesting the court for an urgent hearing.

"We will list it for hearing on May 15," the bench said.

On May 5, the Gauhati High Court had rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Srinivas in a case lodged by expelled chief of Assam Youth Congress, Angkita Dutta, accusing him of causing mental agony to her.

A bench of Justice Ajit Borthakur of the High Court had said he was of the opinion that the case was not fit for granting the privilege of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner and rejected it. The High Court, while disposing of the anticipatory bail application, had also returned the case diary.

Opposing the bail plea, the public prosecutor had argued that Srinivas had filed two pre-arrest bail applications before the sessions court in Bengaluru and both were rejected after appreciating the material present in the case diary. The counsel for Srinivas had argued that all charges levelled against the IYC president under various sections, barring those under Section 354 of the IPC, are bailable in nature.

Section 354 relates to assault or use of criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty.

Besides, the alleged offence had occurred in Raipur in Chhattisgarh which was beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the Dispur police station, where the case was filed, the counsel for Srinivas had said. The High Court, after hearing both sides, had observed the victim is aged 35 years and, according to the order of the Kamrup (Metro) additional chief judicial magistrate, he was satisfied that she had "deposed voluntarily and without being under any pressure or influence from any side'.

The magistrate had recorded her statement after giving her two hours for reflection, it had said. The FIR appears to have been filed on April 20, after a preliminary inquiry and the investigation is at a nascent stage, the High Court had said.

"For these reasons as well as consideration of the various pleas taken by the petitioner (Srinivas) and the documents he filed, the court is of the opinion that it is not a fit case to grant the privilege of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner," the High Court had said.

Srinivas, in his petition filed in the High Court on April 26, had appealed that the FIR filed by Dutta alleging 'mental harassment and physical manhandling' be quashed immediately.

Dutta, in her complaint at Dispur police station, alleged Srinivas was persistently harassing and torturing her for the last six months by making sexist comments, using slang words and also threatening her of dire consequences if she kept complaining against him to senior party office bearers.

She had also claimed Srinivas had heckled her, held her arm, pushed and pulled her and used slang words during the party's recent plenary session in Raipur. He had also threatened to ruin her career in the party if she complained against him. Dutta had made the allegations against the IYC president in a series of tweets on April 18.

A five-member Guwahati police team went to Bengaluru on April 23 and pasted a notice at Srinivas' residence directing him to appear at Dispur Police station by May 2. The Congress issued show cause notice to Dutta and later expelled her from the primary membership of the party for six years for anti-party activities.

Srinivas had also served a legal notice to Dutta demanding an apology, failing which he threatened to initiate legal proceedings.

With PTI Inputs