Published on: 19th August, 2022 at 18:24 IST
The Calcutta High Court bench of Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Ananya Bandopadhyay granted interim bail to 3 suspended Congress MLAs from Jharkhand. The Bench was hearing a plea by the suspended MLA when it doubted the credibility of the FIR in absence of pre-arrest information.
“Unwillingness of the de-facto complainant to come out with the real state of affairs, i.e., petitioners had already been arrested even prior to his lodging the complaint, raises doubt with regard to the credibility of the accusation.”
The Court also noted that no evidence has been produced by the complainant so far to prove that he was bribed by the leaders in return for help, for toppling Government in Jharkhand. There has been a status quo on weeks despite almost two weeks.
Counsel for the applicants, Mukul Rohatgi, submitted that an FIR cannot be held valid merely on the ground of recovery of cash, and be constituted as a cognizable offence. It has not yet been proven that the cash was meant to destabilise the government.
“It is nobody’s case that the parties were in close proximity to one another. No electronic messages between the parties have been retrieved. No CDRs of the petitioners collected during the investigation show telephonic communication between them and the de-facto complainant around the relevant time.”
“This raises serious doubt with regard to the insinuation that an offer of bribe had been made to the de-facto complainant by the petitioners immediately prior to their apprehension.”
The counsel, therefore, requested the court to release the applicants from detainment. They have been cooperative during the custodial interrogation and have no intention of absconding, the counsel submitted.
The Public Prosecutor, Saswata Gopal Mukherjee, disagreed with the above submissions, contending the events to be a plot to destabilise the government in Jharkhand. As per the investigation, the applicants were paid an amount of ₹75 Lakhs by two businessmen.
The counsel also emphasized that the claim of the applicants that the funds were meant to purchase sarees is malicious and the fake documents justifying the cash transfer are under investigation. And so, bail would hamper the ongoing investigation.
The court opined that it has yet to be concluded that the alleged bribe was intended to topple the state government.
The applicants do not require custody further since they would not be able to influence the ongoing investigation. Also, CID’s claim regarding resistance in the states of Assam and Delhi was an issue to be addressed separately.
The bench noted that, “Plea of the Investigating Agency with regard to lack of cooperation from other States, viz. Delhi and Assam, requires to be addressed at different fora over which petitioners do not have control.”
“Like the petitioners, the de-facto complainant is also a member of the legislative assembly and we have no reason to believe there is any possibility of him being won over by the accuser.”
Consequently, the court granted interim bail by furnishing bail bonds to the applicants and, conditioned them to not tamper with the evidence and attend all hearings.