The Supreme Court denied bail to an honour killing-accused, who along with his family, allegedly conspired to kill the daughter’s husband in a case of so-called honour killing.
THE Supreme Court Bench of Justices Surya Kant, Dipankar Datta and Ujjal Bhuyan denied bail to a person accused of being part of a conspiracy to honour kill his brother-in-law.
The Bench also denied bail to a man named Bhagwanaram, who arranged the shooter at the request of the family of the wife of the person killed.
Brief facts of the case
In the case involving an inter-caste marriage, Mamata Nair, née Chaudhary, got married to the deceased Amit Nair in 2011.
In 2015, when the respondent informed her family about her marriage with the deceased, they got irked and threatened her with dire consequences if she did not break up with the deceased.
Despite that, the couple performed another ceremony according to customs in Kerala. Thereafter, they started living together in Jaipur.
The respondent’s family continued to threaten her.
The respondent filed a complaint against her family (consisting of father, mother and brother) at a Jaipur police station in 2015. She withdrew the complaint after her family apologised to her.
It is alleged that in 2017, the father (Jeevanram Chaudhary) and mother (Bhagwani Devi) of the respondent and a contract killer (Ramdevaram) they had hired entered the house of the married couple unannounced, where Ramdevaram shot Amit at point-blank range in front of Mamata and Amit’s mother.
They fled from the scene in a car with help from one Vinod Kumar Gaura.
A first information report was registered against the accused and other family members in 2017. The accused is alleged to be the key conspirator in this case. He was charged with committing offences under Sections302,450,201,118 and120of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections3 and24 of the Arms Act, 1959.
The Rajasthan High Court granted Mukesh Choudhary, the accused brother of Mamata, bail on December 1, 2020. However, the bail Order was challenged in a criminal appeal before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Bench headed by former Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roycancelledthe bail on July 12, 2021. The court also ordered that the trial should conclude within a period of one year.
The petitioner has been in custody for about six and a half years. He has sought parity with the other accused, Jeevanram (Mamata’s father), who was granted bail on August 13, 2021.
The respondent contends that Jeevanram was granted bail by the sessions court on erroneous grounds.
The respondent claims that the sessions court relied on the Order of the Rajasthan High Court which granted bail to another accused, Bhagwani Devi (Mamata’s mother) without appreciating the seriousness of the allegations.
The bail Order of Bhagwani Devi was challenged by Mamata before the Supreme Court. The court, through its Order on August 18, 2022, refused to interfere with Bhagwani Devi’s bail Order, only on the ground that she is an old woman. The Supreme Court had also directed the trial court to complete the trial by December 31, 2022.
A petition seeking cancellation of Jeevanram was also placed before the Rajasthan High Court by the mother of the deceased, Rama Devi. The high court dismissed that application on August 10, 2023. A recall application against the said Order was filed on October 10, 2023.
What did the Supreme Court say?
Earlier this year, both Mukesh and Bhagwanaram approached the Rajasthan High Court seeking bail on the ground of parity with Jeevanram and also on the ground of delay in trial. The Rajasthan High Court in May this year rejected the bail petitions filed by the duo.
On November 2, senior advocate Indira Jaising, on behalf of Mamata, informed the Supreme Court that of the 47 witnesses of the prosecution, 42 have already been examined.
The court observed: “The trial court is directed to ensure that all the remaining prosecution witnesses are produced within the time stipulated hereinabove.”
The court stated that the trial court shall grant three months’ time to the petitioner to lead their defence evidence, if any.
“In this manner, the trial will be concluded within a period of six months,” the court noted.
Thereby, the court disposed of the criminal appeal.
Lastly, the court allowed the petitioner to be entitled to revise his prayer for bail afresh before the sessions court and stated that the same must be considered on its own merit without being influenced by the previous Orders.