Calcutta High Court has granted conditional bail to an accused in the killing of 21 Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) jawans by Maoists in 2010 as he has been in custody for over 12 years and is suffering from psychiatric ailments.

The Court said that while granting bail to the petitioner, it is equally mindful of the agony of the family members of the deceased police personnel who are eagerly awaiting the punishment of the offenders.

A Division Bench of Justice Joymalya Bagchi and Justice Ananya Bandopadhyay granted bail to alleged Maoist activist Prasanta Patra, noting that he has suffered undertrial incarceration for more than 12 years and is suffering from psychiatric ailments and had to be given institutionalised treatment in a correctional home.

The Bench directed that the trial Court will take immediate and prompt steps for conclusion of the trial at the earliest without granting unnecessary adjournment to any of the parties.

Advocate Kaushik Gupta appeared for the Petitioner while Advocate Neguive Ahmed appeared for the prosecution.

Opposing the bail prayer, the prosecution lawyer submitted that the petitioner along with co-accused persons were members of a Maoist organisation and had gunned down 21 EFR personnel.

In an attack on an EFR camp at Silda in then Paschim Medinipur district in February 2010 at the height of Maoist activities in the Jangalmahal area, the red rebels had killed 21 jawans.

Hence to avoid an absurdity in interpretation of particular provision in the Criminal Procedure Code, namely, 436-A CrPC, it may be apposite to read the said provision in conjunction with section 57 IPC (supra) which, inter alia, provides imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for twenty years for calculating a fraction of such imprisonment, the Court held.

The Bench directed that accused Patra be released on bail upon furnishing a bond of Rs.50,000 with two sureties of like amount each, one of whom must be a local. It directed that while on bail, Patra will remain within the jurisdiction of Salboni Police Station and will report to the officer-in-charge once a week.

The petitioner was directed to appear before the trial court on every date of hearing until further orders.

The Division Bench said that in the event the petitioner fails to appear before the trial court without any justifiable cause, it will be at liberty to cancel his bail in accordance with law without further reference to the High Court.

Click here to read/download Order

With PTI inputs