The Patna High Court on Tuesday granted bail to school teacher Rupam Pathak, sentenced to life in connection with the murder of former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Raj Kishore Keshri two years ago.
On January 4, 2011, Ms. Pathak stabbed Mr. Keshri, the then BJP MLA from Purnea district, at an open assembly at his residence in full public view. A year earlier, she had filed a case alleging sexual harassment from the MLA in 2007. However, she retracted her statement alleging pressure.
On Tuesday, a division bench of Justices B N Sinha and Shivaji Pandey granted bail to Ms. Pathak on points of investigation.
The court took note of the fact that the first officer who arrested Ms. Pathak from the scene of crime could not recover the knife. Secondly, the FIR reached the chief judicial magistrate’s court after a gap of two days. “This delay is unexplained. These are the two main grounds for bail,” Bindhyachal Singh, one of the defence counsels for Ms. Pathak told The Hindu.
Mr. Singh said the High Court had earlier rejected her bail plea, after which a fresh appeal was made.
The court also came down heavily upon the CBI for investigating the murder case, but not the alleged rape angle. “This is the first time in two years that the court has taken note of the fact that the rape angle has not been probed. Justice Sinha observed that the cases of rape and murder were interconnected,” another defence counsel Dinesh Kumar told The Hindu.
A special CBI court had convicted Ms. Pathak, who is currently lodged at the Bhagalpur jail, of murder under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
Women’s groups had staged a protest in Patna demanding a CBI probe in the circumstances that drove her to murder Mr. Keshri. A probe was announced, but it left out the rape angle.
Meena Tiwari of the All India Progressive Women Association, on Tuesday, called for speedy action in the rape charges and the arrest of Vipin Rai, the former MLA’s personal assistant, also an accused in the alleged rape case.
Ms. Pathak’s counsels said it would take about a week to complete the bail formalities and for her to walk out of jail.