The Bombay High Court last week rejected the bail application filed by builders Abdul Salim Shaikh (Siddhique) and Jameel Qureshi,accused of culpable homicide not amounting to murder after the collapse of a building in Mumbras Lucky compound in April this year that killed 74.
The accused,arrested on April 6,claimed that the mandatory period of detention of 60 days pending investigation,as provided under the Criminal Procedure Code,was over and so they were entitled to bail.
The accused contended that the most serious charge levelled against them was of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304 of the IPC. Their counsel argued that in their case,it would be part-II of the section (act committed with knowledge but without intention),which attracts a maximum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment. Hence,the defence further contended,a magistrate can extend the custody of the accused beyond 60 days only if the charges against them attract a punishment of not less than ten years. Prosecutor Sangeeta Shinde,however,pointed out that the accused were also booked under section 467 (forgery of valuable security) of the IPC that attracts a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Indeed,it is rather ironical that with respect to a more serious part of the case i.e. loss of lives of about 74 persons,the offence would be one punishable under Part II of section 304 of IPC and therefore the maximum period for detention pending investigation with respect to such an offence would be only 60 days,while for the forgery of certain documents which was only incidental to the real object of the applicants (as has been alleged),the detention for a greater period pending investigation could be authorised, Justice A M Thipsay observed.
When a party is seeking relief purely on a technical ground,it fails to get the same,also on a technical ground. All that can be said is that the law has operated evenly.