SC refuses to interfere with HC order granting bail to former Andaman and Nicobar chief secretary in rape case

 The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the Calcutta High Court order granting bail to former Andaman and Nicobar Islands chief secretary Jitendra Narain in a rape case.

A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and A Amanullah directed that the trial court shall proceed expeditiously with the case without any undue adjournment.

In its judgement, which was pronounced on Thursday and was uploaded on the apex court website on Friday, the bench said the onus of ensuring the safety of complainant woman and her family will be on the Union Territory administration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The apex court dismissed the pleas filed by the complainant woman and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands challenging the February 20 order of the Port Blair circuit bench of the Calcutta High Court granting bail to Narain.

It also dismissed the pleas by the UT administration challenging the high court orders granting bail to two co-accused, Sandeep Singh and Rishishwar Lal Rishi, in the case.

“Having considered the matter and the applicable law, this court notes that the decision of the division bench of the High Court of Calcutta (Circuit Bench, Port Blair) dated February 20, 2023 has neither dealt with the real issue, nor indicated reasons which are germane and, in our view, required consideration concerning the grant or rejection of bail,” the bench said in its verdict.

“However, we have independently considered the matter on merits after hearing counsel in extenso (at full length). Having done so, we do not find reason to interfere with the impugned judgments,” the bench said.

It noted the conditions imposed by the high court on the accused while granting them bail.

The bench said it has consciously refrained from commenting on the contentions put forth by counsel on both sides on the alleged inconsistencies, contradictions or deficiencies in the other side’s case.

“At the same time, the interest of justice must be preserved. In this light, we impose the following conditions in addition to those laid down by the high court: (a) The trial court shall proceed expeditiously with the case and without any undue adjournment(s), and; (b) the accused-respondent shall render full cooperation in the trial, and; (c) The accused-respondent shall not leave the territory of India. Condition No. 4 imposed by the High Court shall stand modified accordingly .,” the bench said.

It said one of the conditions imposed by the high court is “varied and shall now read as ‘the petitioner shall submit his passport to the trial court. In case, the petitioner holds more than one passport (diplomatic and/or personal), the other passport shall also be deposited with the trial court’.”

It said any violation of the terms and conditions stipulated would be grounds for cancellation of bail.

The bench noted the complainant woman fears for her as well as her family’s safety.

“It is made clear that the onus of ensuring their safety is on the Union Territory administration. Similarly, the Union Territory Police is put to notice in this regard,” it said.

The apex court said insofar as her claims that the Director General of Police has not acted on her subsequent complaints seeking registration of FIRs against certain other persons, “the Director General is directed to examine the same and take an independent decision on what action, if any, is called for, in accordance with law, within 10 days from today.”

The woman has alleged that she was raped by Narain and others after being lured to his residence with the promise of a government job.

Narain was arrested on November 10 last year after an FIR was registered on October 1, when he was posted as the chairman and managing director of the Delhi Financial Corporation. The government suspended him on October 17 last year.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) had probed the allegation and filed a 935-page charge sheet in the case on February 3.

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The prosecution’s lawyer had argued before the top court that there was no reason for granting bail to the former chief secretary when a prima facie case was made out against him from the material on record.

The accused’s counsel had claimed he was implicated in a “strategically created” case, which was “hyped out of proportion”.

The charge sheet against Narain, businessman Sandeep Singh alias Rinku and suspended labour commissioner Rishishwar Lal Rishi is based on the statements of nearly 90 witnesses, forensic reports and electronic evidence, police said.

The accused have been charged for alleged offences punishable under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 376 (rape), 376C (intercourse by superintendent of jail, remand home, etc), 376D (intercourse by any member of the management or staff of a hospital), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison etc. with intent to commit an offence) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence).

The charge sheet also mentions IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 500 (defamation) and 228A (disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences).

It also accused Narain of misusing his position in order to destroy evidence of the alleged crime at his official residence.

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