SC sets aside bail for BJP MLA in Kandhamal riot case

Last Updated: Friday, January 28, 2011 - 22:55

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has set aside
the bail granted to BJP MLA Manoj Kumar Pradhan, sentenced to
seven years RI for his role in communal riots in Orissa`s
Kandhamal district where members of the Christian community
were targeted.



A bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said
law cannot be applied differently for elected representatives
and the common man and the Orissa High Court granted bail
merely because the convict was a sitting MLA.
Upholding the appeal filed by the widow of a deceased in
the riots, a bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S
Nijjar asked the High Court to reconsider its decision for
granting bail to the Udayagiri constituency MLA.



Setting aside the high court order, the apex court said
"the impugned order does not record any reason whatsoever,
except vague observation that nature of the allegations have
been taken into consideration.



"The order clearly reflects that the High Court was
mainly impressed by the fact that the respondent is a sitting
MLA. In the circumstances, we find it difficult to sustain the
order."



"In our considered opinion, the High Court ought to
have taken the serious nature of allegations, the findings
recorded by the trial court and the alleged involvement of
the respondent in more than one case for deciding as to
whether it is a fit case for suspending the sentence awarded
by the trial court and his release on bail during the pendency
of the appeal," the apex court said.



"For the aforesaid reasons, the impugned order is set
aside and the matter is remitted to the high court for its
fresh consideration in accordance with law.



The trial court had earlier convicted and sentenced
Pradhan to seven years RI for his alleged involvement in the
riots.
While awarding the sentence, the trial court held the
crime committed by the MLA cannot be viewed leniently as it
was committed against the society at large.



Pradhan was granted bail by the Orissa High on July 7,
2010, on the very first day of the hearing, though two others
in the case were denied the same.



Aggrieved by the relief given by the HC, Kanaka Rekha
Naik, whose husband was one of the several persons killed in
the 2008 communal riots filed an appeal in the apex court
seeking cancellation of the bail.



The apex court said even though two other accused had
also applied for bail, the high court chose to grant relief
only to the legislator and not to others despite the fact that
he was involved in various other cases.



"There is no dispute that the respondent (MLA) herein
is involved in more than one case of similar nature of rioting
etc. This fact has not been taken into consideration at all by
the High Court. The High Court did not even suspend the
execution of the sentence awarded by the trial court but
directed his release on bail.



Kandhamal had witnessed largescale communal riots
against members of the Christian community following the
killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati.



However, the SC bench said the high court shall not be
influenced by the observations made by it.



"We make it clear that we have not expressed any
opinion whatsoever as to whether it is a fit case for the
suspension of sentence of the respondent No 1 during the
pendency of the appeal and for release on bail. It is for the
high court to arrive at a proper conclusion for which purpose,
reasons are required to be recorded," the bench added.



PTI



First Published: Friday, January 28, 2011 - 22:55

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