SC stays bail granted to accused in Bulandshahr lynching case

THE Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Allahabad High Court order granting bail to the main accused in the December 2018 Bulandshahr lynching case, in which a police officer was killed by a mob ostensibly while protesting against cow slaughter.

A division bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh directed the accused Yogeshraj to surrender within seven days after observing that “the matter is quite serious where under the pretext of protesting against the cow slaughter, a police officer has been lynched.”

“Prima facie, it is a case of people taking law into their own hand”, the bench added.

The bench also directed the trial court in Bulandshahr to appraise it of the time needed to frame the charges and to record the testimonies of the independent witnesses. The order came to be passed on an appeal filed by the wife of the deceased police officer, Subodh Kumar Singh.

It also disapproved the conduct of the Uttar Pradesh Police for not challenging the bail granted to the main accused but acting only after the widow of the deceased police officer approached the Supreme Court assailing the High Court order.

“If you say that his bail has to be cancelled, why did you not file an appeal against the high court order? You don’t take any step yourself, but now you come forward to say that you are supporting the petition”, the bench told the Additional Advocate General Ajay Kumar Mishra.

A single judge of the Allahabad High Court on September 25, 2019, had granted bail to Yogeshraj for the offence under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) without assigning any reasons. He was earlier granted bail for other offences, including Sections 120B (conspiracy) and 147 (rioting) of the IPC. Yogeshraj had contended that co-accused Ashish Kumar had already been granted bail by the High Court on August 28, 2019, and thus he was entitled to the bail on the ground of parity.

Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioner, argued that Yogeshraj instigated the incident of mob violence that claimed the life of Inspector Singh. He also pointed out how the accused Yogeshraj flaunted the conditions of the bail. He told the Court that Yogeshraj while on bail contested Panchayat elections and he threatened to murder somebody who had not voted for him. Hegde informed the Court that even after his release on bail, Yogeshraj indulged in criminal activities, and in fact, an FIR came to be lodged against him for threatening a family for not voting for him.

In 2018, police inspector Singh and a local youth Sumit Kumar were killed in mob violence near Siyana village, Bulandshahr district during protests against alleged cow slaughter. The violence erupted following protests after cattle carcasses were allegedly found in a nearby village. Yogeshraj and others were accused of leading the mob and instigating it to attack the police with illegal firearms, sharp objects, and lathis.