Nearly five months after his arrest, the Karnataka High Court on Monday granted bail to Kasturi Newz 24 reporter Naveen Soorinje in the Mangalore ‘homestay’ attack case.
In his order, Justice K. Sreedhar Rao asked the reporter to provide a bond of Rs. 5 lakh and a surety for the like sum, while directing him not to tamper with prosecution witnesses and evidence.
The court passed the order after recording the statement of the complainant in the case, Vijay Kumar, who was present in court. Mr. Kumar clarified to the court that he had written a letter to chairman of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju on February 13, and admitted the contents of the letter, a copy of which was produced with the bail petition.
Though the High Court in its December 26, 2012 order had rejected Mr. Soorinje’s plea for bail, he moved the court for bail again on the strength of this letter, in which the complainant had expressed his sorrow that Mr. Soorinje, who helped the victims, was languishing in jail.
The court considered this letter as a new circumstance as it was written after the dismissal of the first bail plea and ordered the petitioner’s release on bail.
What’s in the letter
The Mangalore police had listed Mr. Soorinje as accused number 44 in the case on the charge that he entered the scene along with the assailants and circulated the video of the victimised girls, showing them in poor light.
But in the letter to Mr. Katju Mr. Kumar had stated, “Mr. Soorinje, who came just after the incident occurred, kept shouting at the hooligans not to hit the girls” and also asked the police to act against the assailants. On his statement to the police against media personnel, Mr. Kumar added in the letter, “I was told to sign [by the police] on a blank sheet in a state of fear after making us [victims of the attack] to sit in the police station till 1 o’clock.”