[2017 Ryan School Murder Case] SC Grants Interim Bail to Accused for Murder of Seven-Year-Old Boy

gavel Law Insider

Bhuvana Marni

Published on: October 21, 2022 at 23:32 IST

The Supreme Court sent shockwaves through the nation when the Division Bench granted interim bail to the juvenile accused for the murder of a seven-year-old boy at Gurugram’s Ryan International School crime.

The heels of a decision of the Juvenile Justice Board on Monday that the accused has to be tried as an adult.

The accused’s release was approved by the bench made up of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and J.K. Maheshwari, subject to “such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the Sessions Judge, Gurugram,” and it was made clear that he would be under the “continued supervision” of the probation officer or another person assigned to that duty.

Additionally, the probation officer was instructed to inform the Sessions Judge of any “shortcoming in the behaviour of the petitioner” that was discovered.

According to the Bench, this was done to meet the “requirements of balancing the opposing claims and equities.”

A fascinating legal question of whether Section 12 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 might be used by an adult accused of a crime committed while a juvenile came up during the debate.

The Bench determined that this would require a detailed investigation and granted leave.

The accused, who was detained when he was sixteen years old, has been lodged in a correctional facility for over five years, the court noted. According to Justice Dinesh Maheshwari.

“We shall consider whether a bail application is maintainable under Section 12 in order to establish whether it must be heard by a three-judge bench. We don’t know right now. We are keeping everything open.”

“He is covered by Section 12, but it does not automatically imply he will be granted bail. There will be further obstacles to overcome. We’ll look at everything. But the fact remains that the accused must spend five years in jail. Have we been able to strike a balance between the conflicting factors?”

The victim’s father’s counsel, Sushil Tekriwal, vehemently opposed the request for interim bail. According to him, some of the relevant witnesses had “vulnerabilities tied to them” because they frequently hung out in the same general area. He said –

“There are intimidating aspects…Including judicial officers are not spared. These two, father and uncle, are very strong people from the local bar. My Lords may consider the application expeditiously but the material witnesses should be examined. Only after this, should such an interim arrangement be granted. So that the witnesses can give their statements without any apprehension or fear.”

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari reminded the counsel that the accused’s father had already been “brought to task” in a court ruling.

“If you assert that the accused’s parents, guardians, and other relatives are employing their own forces, then… Regardless of whether the boy is out on bail, they could still take action if they so want. This is not the solution. What do you mean when you suggest that if the boy comes out, it will give their claimed actions more flavour?”

Tekriwal responded – “The effect would be that it would be multiplied”.

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari sharply rejected this contention and said – “You are looking at only the emotions, and not the reality. The crime is barbaric and horrifying. But still, the law must have balance.”

On behalf of the CBI, Additional Solicitor-General Vikramjit Banerjee said – “I understand that he has spent some time being detained. But, the accused is not in jail”.

Justice Dinesh Maheshwari rebutted – “In any case, he is not a free man.”

Allowing the application for interim bail, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari pronounced –

“…Accordingly, the prayer for interim relief is granted and until further orders of this court, that is by way of an interim measure, the petitioner-appellant be released on bail on conditions as may be imposed by sessions judge Gurugram.

It is, however, specifically provided that the petitioner-appellant shall continuously remain under the supervision of a probation officer or any other person appointed by the session judge. It is also made clear that the petitioner and his parents would be expected not to create hindrance in the trial of the case and for that matter will not try to contact or communicate with any of the witnesses.”

At Ryan International School in Gurugram, on September 8, 2017, a Class II student’s body with his throat slashed was discovered inside a restroom.

After taking over the investigation from the Haryana Police, the Central Bureau of Investigation cleared the original suspect and detained a Class XI student from the same institution.

On April 3, the defendant, who was sixteen years old at the time of the event, became twenty.

On October 31, the trial is scheduled to start.

Case Title: Master Bholu (Imaginary Name) vs. CBI [SLP (Crl) No. 8691/2021]

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