Kerala Special Court Revoked Bail of 12 Accused on Ground of Influencing Witnessed in Matter of Madhu Lynching Case

Priya Gour

Published on: 22nd August, 2022 at 18:16 IST

The granted bail of 12 lynching accused has been cancelled by the Special Court for SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Judge K.M. Retheesh Kumar in Mannarkkad recently. The accused, 16 in number, had lynched a person named Madhu in Kerala back in 2018.

It was held by the Special Court that the grant of bail does not constitute absolute freedom of the accused. The bail can be cancelled on the likelihood of escape of justice by the accused, the court elaborated. Section 437(5) and 439(2) CrPC can be invoked to limit such freedom.

‘’…But the accused can never be permitted to come across the endeavor of the courts to find the truth. The presumption of innocence is to be balanced with the rights of the victim.’’

The application was filed before the court to cancel the bail of some of the accused on behalf of the investigating officer. It was alleged that they had tried to influence the case witnesses, which is against the bail rules. The call details as per the orders of the Witness Committee reveal that many eye witnesses to the case who had given the statement under Section 164 CrPC before the Magistrate had been in touch with the accused.

An FIR was also filed under Sections 452, 506 (i), and 195 A of the IPC, as well as Section 34 of the IPC and Section 3 (2) (v) (a) of the SC/ST Act, for threatening the mother of one of the victims in the case.

The police asserted that the accused are making efforts to hinder the judicial process through the use of their political power.

It was opposed by submitting that the prosecution was simply attempting to delay the trial. Even the call records reveal that most of the conversations were only for a few seconds & not sufficient to influence witnesses. The police had compelled the witness to give a statement before the magistrate.

It was submitted that some of the accused were drivers by profession, which required them to contact the concerned persons. It was argued that minor infractions would not result in bail cancellation. Also, since the High Court issued bail orders, the Special Court does not have the authority to cancel them.

However, the court found the contact made with the witnesses to be true and also that the witnesses had turned hostile to the prosecution case after making their statement. The court was convinced that the witnesses were giving false evidence when there was a slip of the tongue by one of them during the cross examination as: “They had not taken anything.”

“It is sarcastic to note that those witnesses who have given testimony before the court that they have no idea about the accused persons are found to have contacted these accused persons on their mobile phones on several occasions.”

Further, the EKYC forms revealed the used numbers to be registered in the name of the accused. Further, for the cancellation of bail, the court perused the conjoint reading of two provisions noted:

“If the court finds any possibility of the witnesses being influenced or threatened or won over, or any of the accused absconding from legal process, and the trial process being thus obstructed, bail can be denied by the court and the accused can be detained in custody till the whole trial process is completed.

Thus, the court found it reasonable and within its powers to cancel the bail granted. And it was stated that “every trial court has got the authority to cancel bail in the above circumstances by invoking authority under Sections 437(5) and 439(2) of CrPC.”

The Court held that the accused had tried to hinder the judicial process and mock the entire system. There is a need for such practices to be curbed soon to avoid justice being derailed.

Consequently, the court ordered that the accused be committed to jail, and any delay in doing so would influence other witnesses as well.

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