The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the bail granted to three of the 21 accused, in the 2014 Mohsin Shaikh murder case, by the Bombay High Court last year. The three accused — Vijay Rajendra Gambhire, Ganesh alias Ranjeet Shankar Yadav and Ajay Dilip Lalge — are among the 21 activists of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, including their leader Dhanajay Jayram Desai alias Bhai, who were booked in connection with the murder of the software engineer in Hadapsar on June 2, 2014.
The incident had taken place during communal clashes in Pune following the circulation of objectionable pictures of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. On January 12 last year, High Court Justice Mridula Bhatkar had granted bail to the three accused, with the HC order stating, “The fact that the deceased belonged to another religion is in favour of the accused, who were provoked in the name of the religion and seem to have committed the murder.”
In the hours before the murder, the accused had allegedly attended a meeting, in which Desai had allegedly delivered a provocative speech. “…The transcript of the speech given by Desai was sufficient to show that he had incited feelings of religious discrimination. The meet was held half an hour prior to the assault. The accused otherwise had no other motive such as 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 accused. Moreover, the accused do not have criminal records and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder,” added the order.
Upset with the High Court’s order, Mohsin’s father Sadiq Shaikh had said his family was not convinced about the grounds on which the court had granted bail to the accused. “Is provocative speech permissible for murdering an innocent person from another religion,” he had asked. Mohsin’s brother Mubin Shaikh had then challenged the High Court’s order in the Supreme Court. One of the accused, Ganesh Yadav, who was also facing charges of attempt to murder in another case, had gone on the run since being released on bail.
In September last year, the SC had directed Yadav to surrender before Hadapsar police in connection with the attempt to murder case. Yadav was subsequently arrested and lodged in jail. “Now, as per the SC order today, the other two accused, Vijay Gambhire and Ajay Lalge, would also have to surrender before police within one week,” said activist Azar Tamboli, who has been helping Mohsin’s family in legal matters.