Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Sunday directed state government to accept bank guarantee of Rs 5 lakh for release of self-styled godman Namdev Das Tyagi alias Computer Baba in connection with a case under Section 151 of Code of Criminal Procedure but it added that the petitioner’s release would be subject to order passed by competent court in other criminal cases against him.
Division bench comprising Justice SC Sharma and Justice Vivek Rusia also sought detailed reply from the government within four weeks.
Computer Baba was arrested in preventive action when the district administration was removing encroachment from government land in Jamburdi Hapsi village near Indore on November 8.
The godman was booked in a fresh case and formally rearrested in jail, following a complaint from the secretary of a village panchayat under Gandhinagar police station area.
Computer Baba moved court habeas corpus for release from jail.
Counsel of the petitioner, Ravindra Singh Chhabra informed the court that the petitioner’s Ashram was demolished and he was detained along with his disciples on November 8.
Chhabra stated that his disciples were released on November 9 but not the petitioner even when as per requirement of Section 151 of the CrPC if a person is under detention beyond 24 hours, an order has to be passed authorizing his detention but the same was done in this case.
“Resultantly, we filed a revision before Indore district judge, which was taken up on November 11. The court was informed that some order has been passed earlier in respect of the detention and the revision was disposed of on November 11 itself,” he said.
Chhabra claimed that the copy of order was not given to the petitioner nor to his counsel and after knowing the contents of the order, the petitioner came to know that he has been directed to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 5,00,000 for his release to the satisfaction of SDM.
He claimed that the bank guarantee was prepared but the authorities are not accepting it.
Chhabra stated that an FIR was also lodged on November 12 at Gandhi Nagar Police Station in respect of the incident (manhandling panchayat secertary) dated November 8 for the offences punishable under Sections 353, 323, 294, 186, 506/34 of the IPC and Section 3 of SC/ST Act.
Counsel for the petitioner argued before the court that FIR was registered on false allegation and that he has interfered in the process of demolition. It has been stated that the FIR is an afterthought to circumvent the petitioner's release in respect of the case under Section 151.
Additional advocate general Pushyamitra Bhargav informed the court that the authorities were ready to accept the bank guarantee, however, it was not submitted, and therefore, the petitioner has not been released.
After hearing both the parties, the HC noted that there is already an order dated November 11 directing the petitioner to furnish the bank guarantee of Rs 5 lakh and as he has prepared a bank guarantee also, the State is directed to accept it and release the petitioner in Section 151 case.
The court said that the counsel of petitioner should appear before SDM Parag Jain at 12.30 on Sunday and furnish the bank guarantee enabling him to pass appropriate order in accordance with law.
“In case, the SDM creates any hurdle or objection… the petitioner shall be released on furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs 50,000 to the satisfaction of Jail Superintendent, Central Jail Indore,” the court ruled.
The court, however, stated that the petitioner is free to file a bail application in other criminal cases, under the provisions of the CrPC.
“The registry of this court has informed this court that in the District Court, a Judicial Officer at the rank of Additional District Judge as well as Chief Judicial Magistrate shall be available tomorrow (on Monday), and therefore, the petitioner shall be free to submit his bail application in respect of other criminal cases and the bail application of the petitioner shall be decided on the same day in accordance with law,” the judges said.
The HC concluded that the release of the petitioner in respect of the proceeding under Section 151 of the CrPC should certainly be subject to other criminal cases and the order passed by the court having jurisdiction in the matter. “In case, the petitioner is not required to be detained in any other criminal case, he shall be released forthwith,” the court said.