Delhi High Court grants bail to Mohd. Saleem Khan in Head Constable Ratan Lal Murder Case

Mohd. Saleem Khan, an accused in the Murder of the Head Constable Ratan Lal has been granted bail by the Delhi High Court.

A Single Bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad of the Delhi High Court granted bail to Mohd. Saleem Khan while denying Bail to Mohd. Ibrahim, another accused in the same case. Mohd. Saleem Khan has been accused of the murder of Head Constable Ratan Lal during the North-East Delhi riots that happened in February 2020. Also, he has caused grave head injuries to a DCP.

ASG SV Raju and Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad appeared for the prosecution while various counsels appeared for the accused. After hearing the arguments placed by both sides last month, the Court had reserved its Order.

A total of 11 bail applications were filed against the many accused, out of which Shahnawaz, Mohd. Ayub, Mohd. Arif, Shadab Ahmad, Furkan, Suvaleen and Tabassum were granted bail earlier this month. Bail was then denied to Sadiq and Irshad Ali and now also to Mohd. Saleem Khan. Orders have today been passed in all 11 bail pleas.  

During the riots caused in North – East Delhi in February last year, many protestors had gathered with danda, lathies, baseball bats, iron rods and stones. COnstabele Ratan Lal was then serving at the Chand Bagh area Along with many senior officers and DCPs present at the scene. The officers gave multiple warnings to the protestors who paid no heed and grievously injured DCPs Sahadara and Gokulpuri while murdering head Constable Ratan Lal. They were immediately taken to a hospital where head Constable Ratan Lal was already found dead.

While passing the Orders of bail to the accused and co-accused the Court observed various reasons such as Mohd. Ayyub was not seen present at the crime place at the time of the alleged incident in any evidence of electronic records; Shahnawaz had participated in the protest was not a sufficient ground to deny bail to him as protesting and expressing dissent is a fundamental right.

Bail jurisprudence attempts to bridge the gap between the personal liberty of an accused and ensuring social security remains intact. It is the intricate balance between the securing the personal liberty of an individual and ensuring that this liberty does not lead to an eventual disturbance of public order. It is egregious and against the principles enshrined in our Constitution to allow an accused to remain languishing behind bars during the pendency of the trial. Therefore, the Court, while deciding an application for grant of bail, must traverse this intricate path very carefully and thus take multiple factors into consideration before arriving at a reasoned order whereby it grants or rejects bail,” 

The Court, while granting bail to Mohd. Arif. said

“It is the Constitutional duty of the Court to ensure that there is no arbitrary deprivation of personal liberty in the face of excess of State power. Bail is the rule and jail is the exception, and Courts must exercise their jurisdiction to uphold the tenets of personal liberty, subject to rightful regulation of the same by validly enacted legislation. The Supreme Court has time and again held that Courts need to be alive to both ends of the spectrum, i.e. the duty of the Courts to ensure proper enforcement of criminal law, and the duty of the Courts to ensure that the law does not become a tool for targeted harassment”.

However, where there were solid evidences against the accuseds, the Court has denied bail to Irshad Ali by stating that

“The clinching evidence that tilts this Court to prolong the incarceration of the Petitioner is his presence in the Vishal Chaudhry video wherein he is clearly identified at the Scene of Crime, using a stick to beat uniformed police officials who are present around him,”

Denying Bail to Sadiq, the Court also stated that –

“The fact that he actively participated and pelted stones at the Police Officials at the Scene of Crime justifies the invocation of Section 149 IPC read with Section 302 IPC in the instant case.” 

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