The fact that the deceased belonged to a certain community cannot be a justification for any assault much less a murder, says Supreme Court. The court also quashed the bail granted to three accused.
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court of India has pulled up the Bombay High Court for the religion remark against IT engineer Mohsin Shaikh who was lynched by a mob in Pune in June 2014. While granting bail to three of the 21 accuse in January 2017, a single judge bench of the High Court had said that Mohsin was killed due to his religion.
While hearing a petition from Shaikh’s brother Mubin Shaikh on February 8, the SC rapped the HC and quashed the bail granted to three accused. The apex court observed that religion “cannot be a justification for any assault much less a murder.”
The Bombay High Court judge Justice Mridula Bhatkar while granting bail to the accused on January 12, 2017 had said: “The applicants/accused otherwise had no other motive such as any personal enmity against the innocent deceased Mohsin. The fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. Moreover, the applicants/accused do not have criminal record and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder.”
While quashing the bail, the SC observed that “there was little reference to/or discussion on the merits of the bail applications” and “the significant reason for release is mainly the one (religion) stated above.”
And then the SC made the following remarks: “We find that the aforesaid reason can, on a fair reading, be understood or misunderstood almost as a mitigating circumstance or a kind of a justification for the murder and it is obvious that the fact that the deceased belonged to a certain community cannot be a justification for any assault much less a murder.”
“While it may be possible to understand a reference to the community of the parties involved in an assault, it is difficult to understand why it was said that “the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion” and “I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused,” said the SC.
“We have no doubt that a Court fully conscious of the plural composition of the Country while called upon to deal with rights of various communities, cannot make such observations which may appear to be coloured with a bias for or against a community…” observed SC.
After the last order of the SC, one of the accused Ganesh @ Ranjeet Shankar Yadav was taken into custody. The SC last week ordered that other two accused who were granted bail Ajay Dilip Lalge and Vijay Rajendra Gambhire shall be taken into custody, if they do not surrender within a period of one week from today.
The SC also asked HC to hear the bail matter afresh and ordered all involved parties to appear before the HC on February 16.