The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday granted bail to 33 migrant labourers mainly from Jharkhand, who were in jail for over a month, on being arrested for clashing with police in Vastrapur last month, as the court of Justice Paresh Upadhyay observed that the said accused were “victims, and certainly not criminals.” They were in jail since May 18 when the FIR was registered against them.
The migrants were charged with sections pertaining to unlawful assembly, rioting, causing hurt to public servant under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and also under provisions of the Epidemic Act, 1897, the Disaster Management Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
Nirav Mishra, the advocate representing the accused, submitted before the court that the migrants, who had come to Ahmedabad for labour work and were working at the construction site of New IIM building at Vastrapur, Ahmedabad, were without any work, money and even food during the lockdown. “…under these circumstances, they wanted to go back home, which led to the alleged untoward incident of May 18, and registration of the offence in question, wherein as many as 35 people are named as accused.” Of the total 33 applicants, 32 were from Jharkhand and one from West Bengal.
Largely unopposed by the state through its public prosecutor, the court deemed it fit to exercise its discretion to release the applicants on bail. The court also observed that at a time when the applicants were without any work, money and even food, instead of arranging for their travel back home, they were sent to jail.
“The applicants are more the victims, certainly not the criminals. They need not be continued in custody any further. They need to be set free immediately, on furnishing their personal bond, without any further condition.” A personal bond of Rs 500 each was imposed.
The construction company PSP Projects with whom the labourers were contractually employed, was hired by the IIM-A for construction work in the institution’s campus.
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