The Supreme Court directed the trial judge to conclude the trial within one year in the ransom muder case of a child.
The appellants are the parents of the deceased, who was a 13 year old Class VIII student. The case of the prosecution is that he was kidnapped for a ransom of rupees one crore and his dead body was recovered from a nallah, day after the kidnapping of the child. The second respondent was arrested and was in custody, except for the period when he was released on interim bail, until 2 March 2022.
Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing on behalf of the appellants, contended that the High Court has proceeded on a manifestly erroneous premise that Urvashi, who deposed during the course of the trial, is an approver.
She submitted that the Crucial witnesses, including the caretaker and the landlady remain to be examined. The material which has emerged during the course of the investigation and the trial would militate against the grant of bail.
Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, appearing on behalf of the respondent, on the other hand, urged that the respondent was in custody for over a period of six years. Considering the fact that only eleven out of fifty five witnesses have been examined at the trial, the order granting bail does not warrant interference. The respondent had furnished his voice sample unlike the co accused who had refused to do so and the report of the Forensic Science Laboratory has not been produced on the record. On the above grounds and having regard to the period of custody undergone, there is no valid reason for this Court to interfere with the order granting bail.
The division bench of Justice Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice Bela M Trivedi noted that the offence in the present case involves the alleged murder of a young child for ransom. The trial is proceeding though, in its view, it would be appropriate to direct that it should be completed expeditiously.
The court said that the High Court has, while granting bail, failed to notice crucial aspects which have a bearing on whether or not a case for the exercise of the jurisdiction to grant bail under Section 439 of CrPC was established.
The court added that an important circumstance which should have, but has not been taken into consideration by the High Court is that crucial witnesses are yet to be examined. The release of the second respondent on bail, at this stage, would run a grave risk of impeding a fair trial. The apprehension of the appellants and of the prosecution that the witnesses may be tampered with cannot be regarded as lacking in substance.
The court allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment and order of the Single Judge of the High Court of Delhi.
Case title: Mamta & Anr v/s The State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr
Citation: Criminal Appeal No 878 of 2022