The Supreme Court on Monday set aside an order of the Rajasthan High Court and cancelled the bail granted to a man accused of conspiracy in the murder of his brother-in-law in an alleged case of honour killing.
“The documents already taken note by this Court indicates that there is prima facie material against the accused,” said a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, setting aside the December 1, 2020, order of the Jaipur bench of the Rajasthan High Court that granted him bail.
The court also asked the accused to surrender before the Court of Upper District and Sessions Judge, Jaipur City, while making it clear that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case in which the trial is in progress.
The order came on a plea by Mamta Nair, who challenged the bail granted by the High Court to her brother Mukesh Chaudhary, who, she alleged, was part of a conspiracy along with her parents to kill her husband Amit Nair.
According to the police complaint filed in 2017 by Amit’s mother Rama Devi Nair, her son was killed by Mamta’s family members “as an honour killing since they had not agreed to the marriage”. Mamta married Amit, who was her brother’s friend, in 2011.
On May 17, 2017, Mamata’s parents visited Amit and Mamta at their home along with one Ramdevaram, who allegedly shot Amit while a second accomplice, Vinod Kumar Gaura, waited in a getaway car.
In his order on December 1, 2020, Justice Pankaj Bhandari of the Rajasthan High Court had allowed Mukesh’s bail plea on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh. His counsel had contended that Mukesh was not present at the time of the murder.
Following the High Court order, Mamta filed a special leave petition in the apex court through senior advocate Indira Jaising and contended that the entire plot was hatched by her parents and Mukesh.
She alleged that Mukesh had harboured their parents at his home right after the crime and that the vehicle used in the crime was recovered from his residence. Moreover, she alleged, that ever since he was released on bail, “he has been trying to directly and indirectly intimidate” her through his relatives and others, and that she is worried for her safety and that of her son, who turns four next month.
Stating that it is appropriate that the trial be concluded at the earliest taking into consideration the nature of the offence, the SC directed the trial court to make all efforts to conclude it and dispose of the case as expeditiously as possible, not later than one year from the date of receipt of copy of its order.
Mukesh had earlier been granted bail by the High Court in 2017, which was turned down by the SC in 2018. Back then, the SC had said that “the reading of the FIR and the charge sheet shows that prima facie there is material against the respondent number 2 (Mukesh) and in view of that, we are of the opinion that for the time being, it is not proper to extend the liberty of bail to the respondent number 2.”
Reacting to Monday’s SC order cancelling Mukesh’s bail, Mamta told The Indian Express, “Thank God the Supreme Court judges are serious about honour killing cases, even going on to ask how a bail was granted in such a case.”
Mamta says that while the accused keep pressuring her to withdraw the case, she will continue fighting for justice. “They tell me to forgive them, saying this legal battle won’t bring back the one who is gone. I only tell them, get me that person and I’ll ensure every person you want is freed… I have no problem,” says Mamta, who lives with her son, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law and her daughter.
While Mamta’s father Jeewanram Chaudhary, a retired armyman, is still in jail, on July 9, the Rajasthan High Court granted bail to her mother Bhagwani Devi. “We informed them that the matter is already before the Supreme Court but the court cited her age while ordering her release. I will approach the Supreme Court against her bail too,” she says.
Also in jail is Bhagwana Ram Khokhar, who, the Jaipur police said, was allegedly paid Rs 3 lakh by Mamta’s parents to arrange for the two shooters, Ramdevaram and Vinod Kumar Gaura, both of whom are in jail too.
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