Supreme Court Order : Bail Cannot Be Made Conditional Upon Heavy Deposits Beyond The Financial Capacity Of Applicant

Holding that bail cannot be made conditional upon heavy deposit beyond the financial capacity of the applicant, the Supreme Court has modified an order passed by the Madras High Court.

The applicant was one M D Dhanapal, who was the Chief Priest of a temple in Thiruchirappalli district in Tamil Nadu, where seven pilgrims had died on April 20 in a stampede. He was arrested by police pursuant to an FIR registered for the mishap.

When he applied for release on bail, the Madras High Court imposed a condition that he should pay ten lakh rupees each to the families of the deceased persons. That meant that he had to pay a hefty sum of rupees seventy lakhs to the heirs of the dead pilgrims.

The order was imposed based on an undertaking made by the counsel that the applicant was willing to compensate the families of deceased persons by paying them ten lakh rupees each. But later Dhanapal filed an application for lifting the condition by saying that he was earning meager income by giving devotional services in a temple and that the condition was way above his financial capacity. However the High Court dismissed it by merely extending the time by three weeks.

In this backdrop, the applicant approached the Supreme Court. The bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi allowed the petition observing : “If the petitioner lacks funds, undertaking ought not to have been given. Be that as it may, it is well settled that bail cannot be made conditional upon heavy deposits beyond the financial capacity of an applicant for bail”. The bench also noticed that the petitioner was not named in the FIR, and that there was nothing to indicate that he was responsible for the mishap. The petition was allowed, waiving the condition of making payment.

High Court takes suo motu cognisance of gang rape, pulls up police

Taking suo motu cognizance of the gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus, the Delhi high court pulled up the city police asking how the offence remained undetected.
“This incident is of great concern for all the citizens of the capital city as it relates to the safety particularly of women and girl children in Delhi,” a bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan said and asked city police commissioner to file a detailed status report within two days

The court was anguished over the non-implementation of the Supreme Court order on complete ban of vehicles with tinted glasses and asked the counsel for the Delhi Police to explain as to how it has not been implemented so far.

“There are two important questions. The first is the investigation in the case and the second is the preventive measures. We want to know what preventive measures have been taken by the police to prevent such incidents,” the bench also comprising Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.

“The court on its own motion has listed the matter,” the bench said.

Asking the police to file status report, the bench said that the probe must be “of high standards” and the final charge sheet “has to be” filed only after its perusal by this court.

“We would be issuing necessary directions time to time in this court. This court will also issue the guidelines after taking note of the contentions of all concerned,” it said.

The court also expressed surprise as to how the bus, having tinted glasses, kept plying on Delhi roads for 40 minutes during which the sexual assault of the girl remained undetected.

“We are at loss to understand as to how the bus could evade surveillance for 40 minutes… The Commissioner of Police is directed to file a report including the details of police officers who were on patrolling duty in the area.

“The Police Commissioner shall also state the steps taken to remove the tinted glasses from vehicles including public transport,” the court said.

The bench asked the police to employ sufficient number of police personnel at all entry points to the national capital to ensure that vehicles with tinted glasses do not sneak in.

The court, which also asked the Director CFSL to accord primacy to the investigation in the present case, sought to know about the present status of the victim inside the government hospital and asked the Delhi Government to consider shifting her to a super speciality hospital.

“We direct the Delhi Government to shift, if possible, the victim to a super speciality hospital. If it is not possible to shift her, then the experts be asked to visit her,” Justice Murugesan said and posted the matter for hearing on Friday.

Earlier during the hearing, the court said that it has accepted the request of the chief minister to constitute fast-track courts for speedy trial in rape cases.

Advocate Najmi Waziri, counsel for Delhi Government, then said that the court may also consider setting up of fast track court for gang-rape cases also.

“In any case, the fast track courts will not work if investigation is of poor quality. Rather it will lead to acquittal within three months,” Justice Endlaw responded and added “that the probe has to be of high standards. Have you examined the bus forensically.”

Waziri informed the court that a special investigation team (SIT) headed by DCP Chhaya Sharma has been formed and a proper and expeditious probe is underway.

Yesterday, a group of 25 women lawyers had mentioned the matter before a different bench which had assured them that it was looking into the “brazen” incident.

“It was a brazen attempt by some persons who think that they can play with the law and order.. We are very disturbed,” the court had said, adding “strong signals must be sent to the perpetrators” of this “unfortunate” incident.

The lawyers, including former DUSU President Monica Arora, mentioned the incident before the bench urging it to take suo motu cognisance and monitor the probe in the case.

A Delhi court had yesterday remanded the bus driver Ram Singh, who along with others allegedly gangraped the girl on Sunday night, to five days in police custody.

Apart from Singh, three others have been arrested in the case, while the hunt is on for the rest, Delhi police had told the court.

The girl, a paramedical student, was raped and brutally assaulted before being thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend.

Both the victim and her male friend, who had boarded the chartered bus with tinted glass windows from Munirka in south Delhi to Palam around 9.45 PM on Sunday night, were assaulted with an iron rod by the men after the two resisted before they were dumped on the road side near Mahipalpur flyover, police said.