It deems key accused in Gujarat hooch tragedy unfit for bail

Taking a serious view of the hooch tragedy in Gujarat, the Supreme Court said high courts and trial courts should show no leniency in granting of bail to accused in illicit liquor cases.

The apex court cancelled bail to the key accused in the extant case, in which 147 persons died and 205 suffered serious health damage after consuming spurious liquor prepared from chemicals such as ethanol and methanol.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J.S. Khehar said: “It is a well known fact that methanol is a poisonous substance and by adding the same while manufacturing spurious alcohol, it can have devastating results and can cause death or severe damage to health or injuries to anyone who consumes it. Further, such type of offences, as in the case on hand, are against the society at large and who commit the same do not deserve any leniency, particularly in the State of Gujarat where complete prohibition is being followed.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: …Taking a serious view of the matter, the complexity of the crime, the role played by accused persons as well as the number of casualties, we are of the view that it is not a fit case for grant of bail.”

The Bench said that the accused/appellant Ravinder Singh was not entitled to bail merely because he had spent three years as an undertrial The Bench also cancelled the bail of another accused Jayesh Hiralal Thakkar (A-2) who was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court.

Allowing the appeal by the State, the Bench said: “The information furnished by the prosecution clearly shows that in a State having complete prohibition policy, the supply of raw material for liquor, its production and distribution are illegal. It is also demonstrated that respondent [A-2] has illegally supplied poisonous chemicals like ethyl and methyl alcohol to Vinod Dagri [A-1] for the manufacture of country-made liquor.”

The Bench directed the trial court to complete the trial within one year, failing which the accused would be entitled for bail.