Bail to Raju exposes incredible 'credibility' of AP
There is a huge debate in media including TV, print and social media platforms about achievement of bail order to MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju, from our ...
There is a huge debate in media including TV, print and social media platforms about achievement of bail order to MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju, from our apex court. Many journalists, writers, activists and professors who were charged with sedition failed to get bail repeatedly from the Supreme Court.
It's very unfortunate. Everyone knows certain FIRs do not attract prima facie charges of sedition, still the bail is rejected at all levels. Justice Madan Lokur commented that the reason for most of sedition accused being in jail without bail is 'timidity'. Whose timidity?
Timidity of those who are supposed to decide objectively what is sedition and whether complaint constitutes sedition. Major threat to justice is not bias, but the fear. For bias we can question the authorities on ethical grounds. But if a decision is given with fear, there is no way the system can deal with it.
Courage cannot be imposed by external factors, but it should be coming from internal honesty. That is what is missing in our executive, legislature and to some extent in judiciary also.
In these circumstances, where series of bails were rejected except in cases like high profile pro-BJP personality Arnab Goswami, bail to Raghurama Krishnam Raju is a stupendous achievement of sorts.
It is not only a major achievement for Raju, but a greatest defeat for mantris, including the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Main reason for the bail is the ill-treatment given to Raju during custody. The Government has not felt ashamed to make senior Counsel Dushyant Dave to tell SC that it was self-inflicted injury of Raju. The apex court did not believe it.
The medical report of Army Hospital raised heavy doubts about credibility of AP Police and AP medical professionals under the Government. It is an event where the Home Minister and Medical Health Minister of AP should resign, and criminal actions should be initiated against those who tortured Raju in custody and for lying to everywhere up to Supreme Court.
The medical doctors who signed the report should be immediately placed under suspension and inquiry should be begin. But we know it will not happen. The people also stopped asking for such resignations, though worth demanding.
Second reason for the bail is that there is no averment in the FIR or anywhere that Raju's words led to violence. FIR says "it was an attempt to create hatred, provoked his followers to take up violence", which is not enough to say that he incited violence. The language that slipped into the FIR has reflected unintendingly the truth of not having incited violence. This can be read by unbiased and fearless mind, which are scarce commodities nowadays.
SC's first interim order to bring Raju from the custody in AP to Telangana, constitution of medical board totally not involving anybody in AP, putting under control of judicial nominee appointed by Telanagana HC and then asking Y category security to escort him upto Army Hospital, each exposed the credibility and genuineness of AP departments which are working under the beck and call of the political powers, without using discretion given to them by law.
The SC is convinced by the contentions of Mr Rohatgi on behalf of Raju. First point is that statements issued by the appellant were mere criticism of the actions of the State Government and in no case such a criticism, which according to the learned senior counsel would be classified as fair criticism, could be treated as sedition to be punishable under Section 124-A of IPC.
He said that such a section has been included in the FIR only to ensure that the offence becomes non-bailable, as the other sections under which the appellant is charged are offences punishable below seven years.
This is the bone of contention, along with ill-treatment in custody, which stood strong against the actions of AP Government and took Raju out of AP police, out of AP Medical team, out of AP territory and finally out of AP custody. The SC said entire medical examination shall be videographed and kept in custody of Registrar General of Telangana HC. SC did not believe the AP.
Rohatgi pointed out that Raju has been tortured and injured in police custody. This was mentioned by the Magistrate while considering the application for remand. The Magistrate, directed on 15.05.2021, for a medical report from the Government doctors as well as directed that the appellant be also examined by a private hospital. This is because of the deep animosities between Raju and ruling party. Both sides have apprehended false and biased report.
Final stroke against credibility of AP is the Army Hospital's medical report. The truth in black and white amidst coloured remarks.
A. Foot (table on right side)
B. Clinical examination of hip joint, thigh, knee joint and legs on both sides: Normal
4. Xray Both feet (Dorso-plantar and Oblique views) No.10260 dt.18 May 2021: Undisplaced fracture of the distal phalanx of the second toe (left foot)"
Rohatgi has submitted that from a bare perusal of the Report by Army Hospital, it is clear that Raju has been tortured by the police while the appellant was in custody, so much so that there is an undisplaced fracture of the second toe of the left foot.
He has further submitted that the edema, ecchymosis as well as tenderness and other difficulty in movement of the ankle is also a result of the torture, which the appellant had undergone while in police custody. He further said that the detention of the appellant in the State of Andhra Pradesh would not be safe for the appellant and that he should be enlarged on bail. And this was granted.
What are the contentions of AP State through Dushyant Dave? They are mainly technical like "there is an alternative remedy available to the appellant of filing a bail application before the Trial Court, the High Court rightly relegated the appellant to approach the Trial Court".
It is straight away in contradiction to Section 439 of Cr PC. Simple law. This is first point of Dave, that means state could not give any plausible reason to plead against bail petition of Raju. It is neither failure of Dave nor the State. But it reflects the total lack of basic points for the case. There is no case as alleged.
Second main point of AP is that they need more time with Raju in custody. SC said all the contentions in the FIR are borne out by video recorded talks, and there is nothing beyond this to interrogate. It was rejected.
Then followers of ruling party are claiming victory because bail was not unconditional. That has to be decided on the content of conditions. First condition that Raju should cooperate with investigation, etc, and fifth to furnish securities are general and routine. Second and third conditions are conditions for the police not to Raju, about 24-hour notice and presence of Raju's advocate at distance during interrogations.
These points again prove in favour of Raju and totally against police. The fourth condition is surely against Raju, that he shall not address the press (print or visual media) on any of the subjects which relate to this case and the pending proceedings. It is limited to this case and limited to pendency of the proceedings. Quite reasonable.
We need to refer to last sentence of the fifth condition, which says: "It is further provided that the appellant shall be discharged from the Army Hospital, as and when the doctors so advice". This is a very clear order that leaves no scope for AP Police to interpret in favour of ruling party.
It's total success for Raju. But it cannot be interpreted as failure of police or legal team of AP. Because there is no life or strength in the case. Only issue is that Police and Medical officers should have acted independently and with some amount of courage or truthfulness to the law and their duty. It is unfortunate.
(The writer is Professor of Law, Bennett University and former Central Information Commissioner)