“The fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion. I consider this fact in favour of the accused. Moreover, the applicants/accused do not have any criminal records and it appears in the name of religion, they were provoked and have committed murder.”
The above mentioned lines were said by the Bombay HC judge, Justice Mridula Bhatkar in her 6 page bail order in the Mohsin Sheikh murder case. Mohsin Sheikh was a young engineer who worked in an IT company in Pune. As was his routine everyday, he was returning after having lunch. According to Justice Mridula, his only fault was that he wore a green shirt and had a beard because of which some youngsters of the Hindu Rashtra Sena seized him and assaulted him violently, punishing him for being from another religion.
This incident occurred on June 2, 2010 but the wounds were reopened when the accused was given bail.
As per the guidelines of the Supreme Court we can’t question the intention of the court but we have the right to scrutinise the judgement in a balanced way.
Recently, when the Supreme Court ruled that religion and caste could not be used for benefits in election campaigns, the apex court’s aim seemed to be to end the practice of selfish usage of religion and caste in politics. However, a judgement like this by Bombay HC draws out pessimism from the populace.
We have to understand whether Mohsin was killed only because he was a Muslim. This makes the situation very perilous. There is no opposition to bail because the crimes of about 2/3 people in jails haven’t been proved yet neither have they got bail.
Bail is a right of the people and they must be able to apply for it but how principally correct was this verdict of the HC? According to SC guidelines, while granting bail on crimes related to provocation and excitement the provocation must be “grave & sudden”. In this case, the prosecution said that the religion based violence had been going on for 3 days, proving that the excitement was not sudden.
The guidelines of the honorable SC against provocation has much to do with this case. The SC mentions that the provocation should come before the accused. On the contrary, here in Mohsin’s case, the accused had gone before the source of provocation making Mohsin’s only fault to be that of being a Muslim!
These are the fundamental, legal and technical facts that do not do justice to the dead. The fact that there are no other criminal cases against the accused also doesn’t hold ground because of the proofs against it!
The question here is that if bail is justified in a case of violence against person(s) of specific religion then why is it not justified in case of G.N. Saibaba who is 90% paralysed ?
Why were the members of Kabeer Kalaa Manch (KKM, a cultural organisation founded in Pune, which fights against inequalities in society and for the promotion of democracy and has not committed any violent crime) denied bail on charges of supporting Naxalites through their songs. Bail was similarly not given to Mohammad Aamir Khan, who was accused of 19 terror charges and had to spend 12 years in jail.
When his father died and mother suffered a paralytic stroke, he moved several bail applications with the medical records of his mother and acquittal order in other cases. Even then the judge refused to grant bail as the case was “too sensitive”. Eventually, he was acquitted in all the 19 cases. What about the two-third Indian prisoners in jails ?
What message do such judgements carry? A bail can be granted by misusing and misinterpreting the law but the message that it would carry forward in the society will indeed be dangerous.
Unlike the case of politicians of the country, there is much hope from you, honorable SC. You have a huge burden of responsibilities on your shoulders.
So please protect your dignity such that the trust placed in you may not be breached!