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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bail Application - offences under Sections 121, 124(1) and 120B of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 8 (1) (2) (3) of the Chhattisgarh Jansuraksha Adhiniyam and Sections 10 & 13 of the Unlawful Activities of the Act. - High court too refused to give bail - Apex court granted conditional bail - other accused on bail - appellants on interim bail with conditions - charge sheet not filed - all previous cases of similar nature resulted in acquittal - lady accused suffering with aliments - husband died - children are of tender age - another accused is a young person - tend his mindset towards the stream of society - Granted conditional bail pending trial and set aside the High court order = Lingaram Kodopi ….............Appellant(s) Versus State of Chhattisgarh ….............Respondent(s) =2014 ( Feb.Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41210

  Bail Application - offences under Sections 121, 124(1) and 120B of the Indian Penal
 Code as well as Section 8 (1) (2) (3) of the  Chhattisgarh  Jansuraksha Adhiniyam and Sections 10 & 13 of the Unlawful Activities of  the  Act.  - High court too refused to give bail - Apex court granted conditional bail - other accused on bail - appellants on interim bail with conditions - charge sheet not filed - all previous cases of similar nature resulted in acquittal - lady accused suffering with aliments - husband died - children are of tender age - another accused is a young person - tend his mindset towards the stream of society - Granted conditional bail pending trial and set aside the High court order =

Since in the present appeals, we  are  only  concerned  with  the issue of grant of bail to the appellants pending trial, it may  not  be necessary to deal with the arguments of the Counsel for the parties  on either side, in detail, for obvious reasons.
We would like to refer  to the orders  dated  12.11.2013  passed  for  these  proceedings  whereby
     interim bail was granted to both the appellants
Relevant  portions  of
     the said order reads as follows:
           “It has been stated by the learned Counsel for  the  petitioners
           that the petitioner-Lingaram Kodopi - in Special Leave  Petition
           (Criminal) No. 7898 of  2013  has  been  in  custody  since  9th
           September, 2011 and 
the petitioner - Soni Sori in Special  Leave
           Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013 has been in  custody  since
           4th October, 2011. 
Since it is going to take some time before  a
           responsible officer can be present in  Court  in  assisting  the
           examination of the record, we are of the opinion that  it  would
           be unjust to  continue  the  incarceration  of  the  petitioners
           during the pendency of the applications for bail.  
We  are  also
           mindful of the fact that Soni Sori, petitioner in Special  Leave
           Petition (Criminal )No. 7913 of 2013 has been acquitted in  five
           earlier cases. 
Similarly, petitioner Lingaram Kodopi in  Special
           Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013 was also acquitted in
           the earlier matter. 
It has also been stated that B.K. Lala,  co-
           accused has also been granted bail on  4th  February,  2012.  
In
           these circumstances, we are of the  opinion  that  it  would  be
           appropriate to  direct  that  the  petitioners  be  released  on
           interim bail during  the  pendency  of  the  bail  applications.
           
However, keeping in view the submissions made by Mr. V.A. Mohta,
           learned Senior Counsel appearing for the State of  Chhattisgarh,
           
it would be in the interests  of  justice  to  direct  that  the
           petitioners shall not enter the State of Chhattisgarh during the
           period in which they are granted interim  bail.  
It  is  ordered
           accordingly.
                      At this stage, it has been brought to out  notice  by
           Mr. Colin Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel  appearing  for  the
           petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013
           and Mr. Prashant Bhushan,  learned  Counsel  appearing  for  the
           petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal  )  No.  7898  of
           2013 
that the petitioners have not met their families for a long
           time and it would be only humane if they are permitted  to  meet
           their families before they travel to Delhi.


                      In view of the above, 

we direct the concerned  Senior
           Superintendent of  Police to  depute  some  responsible  police
           officers to escort the petitioners to their respective  villages
           so that they can meet their families for a period of  24  hours.
           On the following day,  the  petitioners  shall  be  escorted  to
           Delhi. 
They shall be permitted to  reside  in  any  locality  of
           their choice in Delhi. 
Once the petitioners  reach  Delhi,  they
           are directed to report to the  in-charge  of  the  local  Police
           Station once a week. 
They shall report to the in-charge  of  the
           local Police Station every Sunday at 11.00 a.m.”

15.      On the basis of the aforesaid orders, both the appellants  are  on
    bail with the  condition  that  they  would  not  enter  the  State  of
    Chhattisgarh during this period. 
Other two accused persons have already
    been granted bail. 
Charges  are yet to be framed. Soni Sori  is  having
    medical problems as well. 
There are certain circumstances,  pleaded  by
    the  appellants,  and  if  ultimately  established,  there  may  be   a
    possibility of proving the innocence of the appellants. 
Soni  Sori  has
    lost her husband and has to look after her children who are  of  tender
    ages. 
Lingaram Kodopi, who is a young man of 24  years,  claims  to  be
    genuinely attempting to establish himself as  a  good  citizen  in  the
    society. 
Taking into consideration all these circumstances cumulatively
    and going by the past history, as demonstrated by both the Counsel  for
    the appellants, we are of the opinion that the appellants deserve to be
    enlarged on bail during the pendency of trial  on  furnishing  personal
    securities in the sum of Rs. 50,000/- with two  sureties  each  of  the
    like amount, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.
16.      At the same time, we agree with Mr. Mohta  that  there  should  be
    some  stringent  conditions  for  grant  of  bail  to  the  appellants.
    Accordingly, 
we order that it would be subject to  the  condition  that
    the appellants shall report to the concerned police station once a week
    i.e. at 10.30 a.m. on every Monday to show their presence.  They  would
    be permitted to take along their lawyer.  Further,  they  shall  appear
    before the Trial Court on each and every date of hearing and shall  not
    seek exemption except when on a particular  date  they  are  unable  to
    appear because of the reasons beyond their control, like  illness  etc.
    They shall also inform the Court about their place of  stay/  residence
    and disclose to the Court as to when there is a  change  of  residence.
    Further, they shall not leave the station or travel abroad without  the
    prior permission of the trial court.


17.        These appeals are disposed of in the aforesaid terms.
  

 2014 ( Feb.Part)  judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41210                                SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR, A.K. SIKRI                     

  REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                      CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 357  OF 2014
    [Arising out of Special Leave to Appeal (Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013]




     Lingaram Kodopi
     ….............Appellant(s)


                                   Versus


     State of Chhattisgarh
     ….............Respondent(s)


     With


     Criminal Appeal No.  358  of 2014
     [@ Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013]




                               J U D G M E N T


     A.K. SIKRI, J.


  1.         Leave granted.
  2.       Both these appeals arise  out  of  common  order  dated  8.7.2013
     passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh, whereby
applications for bail
     preferred by these two appellants were rejected.
  3.        Appellants are related to each  other.  The  appellant  Lingaram
     Kodopi is the nephew of the appellant Soni Sori (Lingaram's father  and
     Soni Sori's husband were the real brothers).
Both these appellants have
     been implicated under Sections 121, 124(1) and 120B of the Indian Penal
     Code as well as Section 8 (1) (2) (3) of the  Chhattisgarh  Jansuraksha
     Adhiniyam and Sections 10 & 13 of the Unlawful Activities of  the  Act.
     For the alleged  offence  under  the  aforesaid  provisions  crime  No.
     26/2011 with Police Station Kuakonda district  Dantewada,  Chhattisgarh
     is registered against them alongwith certain other persons.  Both  have
     been arrested in connection with the aforesaid case.
  4.      In nut-shell  the  prosecution  case  is  that  on  8.9.2011,  the
     concerned police received secret information that these appellants  are
     likely to work as conduit for paying  huge  amount  to  the  Naxalties,
     which was to be paid by Essar Company through co-accused B.K.  Lala,  a
     contractor of the said company, whose plant was operating in the  naxal
     affected areas.
The concerned police conducted a raid  when  these  two
     appellants were in the process of receiving the amount of Rs. 15  lakhs
     from B.K. Lala  at  village  Palnar  weekly  market  at  1.00  p.m.  on
     9.9.2011. 
When the police party reached, a pandemonium took  place  and
     taking advantage  thereof  Soni  Sori  successfully  escaped.  However,
     Lingaram Kodopi and co-accused B.K. Lala were arrested from  the  spot.
     The appellant Soni Sori was also arrested afterwards on  12.10.2011  in
     Delhi.
  5.     As per the prosecution, in the present case  different  aspects  of
     naxal movements had appeared wherein  these  naxalites  receiving  huge
     amount of money from Corporate groups to further  their  activities  of
     waging war against the country.
Shri B.K. Lala, Accused No. 1  in  this
     case is a contractor of Essar Company who was supposed to pay money  to
     these naxalites. 
Both the appellants  were  made  conduits  to  receive
     money from B.K. Lala so that they could hand it over to  the  concerned
     naxalite persons. Apart from B.K. Lala and the two appellants, one DVCS
     Verma who is the General  Manager  of  Essar   Company  has  also  been
     implicated in the said case.
  6.       These two other accused persons, viz. Shri B.K. Lala as  well  as
     Shri DVCS Verma were also  arrested.  However,  both  have  since  been
     enlarged on bail, Shri B.K. Lala  who  was  arrested  on  9.9.2011  was
     granted statutory bail on 4.2.2012, on the ground that charge-sheet was
     not filed until after 90 days from the date  of  registration  of  FIR.
     Shri DVCS Verma was granted bail  on  3.1.2012.
These  two  appellants
     however were denied bail by the Trial Court and,  as  mentioned  above,
     even the High Court has rejected  their  bail  applications.  From  the
     perusal of the order  of  the  High Court it  becomes  clear  that  the
      High  Court  has  mainly been influenced  by  the  serious  nature  of
     crime allegedly committed by these appellants. 
The High Court also took note of the
 statements of certain witnesses which were recorded  during
     investigation and went through the case diary.
As per  the  High  Court
     since direct evidence  was  available  against  these  accused  persons
     showing their complicity, there was a prima facie evidence against  the
     appellants to the effect that they were found to be working as  conduit
     between Essar Company through B.K. Lala and the naxalites.
  7.       In support of plea for bail on behalf of  Soni  Sori,  Mr.  Colin
     Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel made detailed submissions,  with  lot
     of emphasis that the appellants were falsely implicated  in  this  case
     because of previous animosity with the  police  authorities,  of  which
     they had become the victims over a period of time without any fault  of
     theirs. It was argued  that  though  the  appellants  were  accused  of
     collecting money for naxalites, in  the  entire  charge-sheet  and  the
     evidence collected, there was no material which could show any link  of
     these appellants with the naxalites.  Mr.  Gonsalves  referred  to  the
     details of the case which was foisted against  him  by  the  police  on
     previous occasions and in all these cases  she  was  acquitted  by  the
     courts. According to him, the appellant Soni Sori had shown courage  in
     filing Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 206  of  2011  in  the  High  Court  of
     Chhattisgarh which had become the cause  of  anguish  for  Chhattisgarh
     police. In that Writ Petition she stated that she was tribal woman from
     Village Sameli in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.  Her  nephew  Mr.
     Lingaram Kodopi on 31.8.2009 was kidnapped by the  Chhattisgarh  police
     and forced to become a Special Police Officer  (SPO).  She,  therefore,
     through the brother of Lingaram, organized and filed  a  Writ  Petition
     (habeas corpus) No. 5469 of 2009 before the Chhattisgarh High Court  as
     a result of which Mr. Lingaram was released from custody. He thereafter
     became a journalist and participated in several TV  programmes  on  the
     massacres and killings taking place in Chhattisgarh and  he  also  took
     photographs of the houses  of  the  tribals  that  were  burnt  by  the
     Chhattisgarh police and these photographs were printed in magazines. As
     a consequence she incurred the  wrath  of  police  who  started  filing
     series of false cases against the appellant Soni Sori. Details of these
     cases are given in Para 8  of  the  'Synopsis'  to  the  Special  Leave
     Petition.
  8.         Mr.  Gonsalves  further  submitted  that  in  September,  2011,
     Tehelka Magazine did a sting operation of the conversation  which  took
     place between the appellant and constable Mankar of the Kirandul police
     station, in which constable Mankar admitted  in  a  phone  conversation
     that the appellant, Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi were being
     framed in the Essar case, and that Lingaram Kodopi was picked  up  from
     the house and not from the bazaar. The appellants have filed  the  copy
     of the CD with transcription  and  excerpts  of  the  conversation  are
     reproduced in the SLP paper book as well. On that basis his  submission
     was that this sting operation was enough to show  that  the  appellants
     were framed falsely in the entire case.
  9.       To buttress this submission of false implication,  Mr.  Gonsalves
     also pointed out that the appellant Soni Sori who was a  teacher  in  a
     Government School had in fact been attending the school which was clear
     from the attendance register filed as Annexure  P-1  to  the  SLP.  Mr.
     Gonsalves also highlighted the atrocity committed on her by the  police
     during her custody, particularly on 8.10.2011. He also  submitted  that
     because of the torture she suffered  at  the  hands  of  police  during
     interrogation on that day, her health deteriorated and she  had  to  be
     admitted  into  the  Dantewada  district  hospital  at  9.30  a.m.   on
     10.10.2011. When she was taken to the Court on that day  at  1.45  p.m.
     she was not even in a position to stand and walk. The  police  informed
     the Magistrate by falsely stating that she had suffered a fall  in  the
     bathroom. From the court she was taken to Jagdalpur Jail from where she
     was taken to Maharani hospital from Jagdalpur  and  admitted  there  at
     8.00 p.m. On 12.10.2011 she was referred to Bhim Rao  Ambedkar  Medical
     College, Raipur.
 10.       Mr. Gonsalves also referred to the proceedings in  Writ  Petition
     (Crl.) No. 206 of 2011 pending in  this  Court  wherein  the  aforesaid
     worsening health condition of Soni Sori was explained and on 20.10.2011
     this Court directed that she be taken to Kolkata and  admitted  in  Nil
     Ratan Sarkar Medical College and  Hospital,  Kolkata.  The  Court  also
     observed, while giving this direction, that the injuries  sustained  by
     her do not prima facie appear to be simple as had been projected by the
     Chhattisgarh  Police.  After  the  examination  of  Soni  Sori  by  the
     aforesaid hospital in Kolkata and receiving the report  from  the  said
     hospital, on 2.5.2012 this Court directed the  Director  of  All  India
     Institute  of  Medical  Sciences  (AIIMS)  to  constitute  a  Board  of
     Directors,  which  would  include  the  Head  of  the   Department   of
     Gynaecology, Endocrinology and the Cardiac Department, to  examine  Ms.
     Soni Sori, as to her physical condition and, thereafter,  to  recommend
     the treatment to be undergone in AIIMS itself. At AIIMS she was treated
     for “vulval excoriations and scabies”  and  thereafter  transferred  to
     Raipur Central Prison and then to Jagdalpur Central Prison.
 11.       Mr. Gonsalves also argued that even other family members of  Soni
     Sori have been tortured by the police. According to him, when Soni Sori
     was in custody her husband Anil Futane was arrested in July,  2010  and
     he suffered a paralytic stroke while in custody as a result of torture.
     There are in all four cases in which he was  charged  for  maoist.  His
     last acquittal order  came  on  1.5.2013  and  thereafter  he  died  in
     mysterious circumstances on 1.8.2013. He thus, submitted that after the
     death of her husband there was nobody in the family to look  after  her
     children whose condition had become miserable in  the  absence  of  any
     adult person to take care of them.
 12.       Mr. Prashant Bhushan,  learned  Counsel  appearing  for  Lingaram
     Kodopi, in addition, highlighted  the  circumstances  under  which  his
     client became the target of Chhattisgarh Police which had forced him to
     become a Special Police Officer (SPO). This was  the  reason  for  Soni
     Sori to file Writ Petition (Crl.) 206 of 2011. Mr. Bhushan also  sought
     to narrate in detail the same kind of witch hunting, resorted to by the
     police qua Lingaram, filing series of false cases against him  as  well
     and he was acquitted in all these cases.
 13.       Mr. V.A. Mohta, learned Senior Counsel appearing  for  the  State
     submitted that by well reasoned order, the High Court had rejected  the
     bail application of the appellants herein. He further submitted that as
     per the prosecution cases, on previous  date  confidential  information
     was received from the IB that the appellants are going to receive money
     from B.K. Lala on 10.9.2011. B.K. Lala as well as Lingaram were  nabbed
     on the spot whereas Soni Sori escaped. He also submitted that the  main
     reason for acquittal of these appellants in other cases  was  that  the
     witnesses do not come to Court for deposition as they  fear  threat  to
     their own life. Though he did  not  deny  that  the  bail  was  already
     granted to B.K. Lala and DVCS Verma,  he  however,  submitted  that  if
     because of not handling the cases properly they were granted bail, same
     benefit should not be extended to the appellants.
 14.       Since in the present appeals, we  are  only  concerned  with  the
     issue of grant of bail to the appellants pending trial, it may  not  be
     necessary to deal with the arguments of the Counsel for the parties  on
     either side, in detail, for obvious reasons.
We would like to refer  to
     the orders  dated  12.11.2013  passed  for  these  proceedings  whereby
     interim bail was granted to both the appellants. Relevant  portions  of
     the said order reads as follows:
           “It has been stated by the learned Counsel for  the  petitioners
           that the petitioner-Lingaram Kodopi - in Special Leave  Petition
           (Criminal) No. 7898 of  2013  has  been  in  custody  since  9th
           September, 2011 and 
the petitioner - Soni Sori in Special  Leave
           Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013 has been in  custody  since
           4th October, 2011
Since it is going to take some time before  a
           responsible officer can be present in  Court  in  assisting  the
           examination of the record, we are of the opinion that  it  would
           be unjust to  continue  the  incarceration  of  the  petitioners
           during the pendency of the applications for bail.  
We  are  also
           mindful of the fact that Soni Sori, petitioner in Special  Leave
           Petition (Criminal )No. 7913 of 2013 has been acquitted in  five
           earlier cases. 
Similarly, petitioner Lingaram Kodopi in  Special
           Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7898 of 2013 was also acquitted in
           the earlier matter. 
It has also been stated that B.K. Lala,  co-
           accused has also been granted bail on  4th  February,  2012.  
In
           these circumstances, we are of the  opinion  that  it  would  be
           appropriate to  direct  that  the  petitioners  be  released  on
           interim bail during  the  pendency  of  the  bail  applications.
           
However, keeping in view the submissions made by Mr. V.A. Mohta,
           learned Senior Counsel appearing for the State of  Chhattisgarh,
           
it would be in the interests  of  justice  to  direct  that  the
           petitioners shall not enter the State of Chhattisgarh during the
           period in which they are granted interim  bail.  
It  is  ordered
           accordingly.
                      At this stage, it has been brought to out  notice  by
           Mr. Colin Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel  appearing  for  the
           petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 7913 of 2013
           and Mr. Prashant Bhushan,  learned  Counsel  appearing  for  the
           petitioner in Special Leave Petition (Criminal  )  No.  7898  of
           2013 
that the petitioners have not met their families for a long
           time and it would be only humane if they are permitted  to  meet
           their families before they travel to Delhi.


                      In view of the above, 
we direct the concerned  Senior
           Superintendent of  Police to  depute  some  responsible  police
           officers to escort the petitioners to their respective  villages
           so that they can meet their families for a period of  24  hours.
           On the following day,  the  petitioners  shall  be  escorted  to
           Delhi. 
They shall be permitted to  reside  in  any  locality  of
           their choice in Delhi. 
Once the petitioners  reach  Delhi,  they
           are directed to report to the  in-charge  of  the  local  Police
           Station once a week. 
They shall report to the in-charge  of  the
           local Police Station every Sunday at 11.00 a.m.”




15.      On the basis of the aforesaid orders, both the appellants  are  on
    bail with the  condition  that  they  would  not  enter  the  State  of
    Chhattisgarh during this period. Other two accused persons have already
    been granted bail. Charges  are yet to be framed. Soni Sori  is  having
    medical problems as well.
There are certain circumstances,  pleaded  by
    the  appellants,  and  if  ultimately  established,  there  may  be   a
    possibility of proving the innocence of the appellants. 
Soni  Sori  has
    lost her husband and has to look after her children who are  of  tender
    ages. 
Lingaram Kodopi, who is a young man of 24  years,  claims  to  be
    genuinely attempting to establish himself as  a  good  citizen  in  the
    society. 
Taking into consideration all these circumstances cumulatively
    and going by the past history, as demonstrated by both the Counsel  for
    the appellants, we are of the opinion that the appellants deserve to be
    enlarged on bail during the pendency of trial  on  furnishing  personal
    securities in the sum of Rs. 50,000/- with two  sureties  each  of  the
    like amount, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.
16.      At the same time, we agree with Mr. Mohta  that  there  should  be
    some  stringent  conditions  for  grant  of  bail  to  the  appellants.
    Accordingly,
we order that it would be subject to  the  condition  that
    the appellants shall report to the concerned police station once a week
    i.e. at 10.30 a.m. on every Monday to show their presence.  They  would
    be permitted to take along their lawyer.  Further,  they  shall  appear
    before the Trial Court on each and every date of hearing and shall  not
    seek exemption except when on a particular  date  they  are  unable  to
    appear because of the reasons beyond their control, like  illness  etc.
    They shall also inform the Court about their place of  stay/  residence
    and disclose to the Court as to when there is a  change  of  residence.
    Further, they shall not leave the station or travel abroad without  the
    prior permission of the trial court.


17.        These appeals are disposed of in the aforesaid terms.


                                 …........................................J.
                                                               [S.S. NIJJAR]






                                 …........................................J.
                                                                [A.K. SIKRI]


    New Delhi
    February 07, 2014

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