Sattankulam custodial deaths: HC dismisses bail plea of accused 

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has dismissed the bail petition filed by Raghu Ganesh, suspended Sub-Inspector of Police, an accused in the Sattankulam custodial deaths case of trader P. Jayaraj and his son J. Benicks.

The petitioner, Raghu Ganesh, in his bail petition had said that after the lapse of almost 185 days, the trial court had only examined 22 witnesses out of 105 witnesses. He said that the trial in the case was not completed within the period mandated by the High Court. He said the trial was nowhere close to completion and he was confined in custody for more than 20 months. It would be illegal to retain him under custody till the completion of trial, he said and sought bail.

However, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed its objections and said the witnesses in the case were examined despite adversaries like the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The CBI submitted that the Supreme Court considering the gravity of the offence had refused to grant bail to the accused. The intervenor J. Selvarani, wife of Jayaraj and mother of Benicks, had filed a petition opposing the grant of bail to Raghu Ganesh.

Justice K. Murali Shankar observed the petitioner had not shown any fresh or additional ground that was not available when the earlier bail application was dismissed. Moreover, the petitioner had not shown any specific reason as to why bail should be granted in spite of earlier rejections. 

The judge observed regular functioning of trial courts was not permitted and there was no physical hearing of cases for a certain period during COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioner had not shown any reason or material or circumstances to infer that the prosecution had been adopting delaying tactics and was procrastinating the trial.

The trial court cannot be found at fault for not completing the trial within the time stipulated. Considering the seriousness and the gravity of the offences alleged and taking note of the objections of the prosecution that the petitioner may intimidate or influence witnesses and tamper with evidence, the court was not inclined to grant bail to the petitioner, the judge said and dismissed the petition.

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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 11:08:23 am |