The Bombay High Court has granted bail to a man after it was informed that his voice sample was not collected properly to ascertain his role in a video clip where he and his friends had allegedly killed a man and burnt him.
Justice Prithviraj Chavan granted bail to Saurabh Raju, 21, recently in a case registered by Niphad police station in Nashik. He and his friends were charged for murder and disappearance of evidence.
Raju was arrested on June 18, 2019. His bail application was rejected by sessions court in November 2020. He approached the HC challenging the order of the sessions court and seeking bail.
According to additional public prosecutor Amit Palkar, Raju was arrested following a case registered by a police officer who had seized his mobile in another case. The police officer noticed that there was a video clip in which Raju is seen pouring petrol or some corrosive substance due to which something was burning.
It was revealed during investigation that the deceased was Raju’s relative, Sanjay Shewale, 47, a vagabond who sued to abuse and trouble Raju’s mother – who used to treat him like a brother. Raju was angry with Shewale because of this and hence he and his friends assaulted him with a sickle, killed him, and, thereafter, burnt his dead body by pouring petrol on May 18, 2019 at round 11.00pm. They even purportedly video graphed the incident.
Aniket Nikam, Raju’s advocate, cited the order of the sessions court which said that the “video clip is very vague and the deceased (Shewale) does not appear anywhere, much less, in a burning condition, though something was found to be burnt”.
When the court pointed out that the investigating officer had recovered burnt pieces of bones, Nikam said that although the DNA profile matched with Shewale’s parents, Raju had “no nexus” with the crime and that the sickle recovered at his behest was “sans blood stains”.
It was argued that there was “no evidence, save and except some indecipherable conversation with other accused”.
The prosecution, to draw Raju’s voice sample, asked him to read text which was essentially inculpatory in nature. Nikam pointed out a 2016 Supreme Court judgement which, while permitting voice sample, states that it has to be drawn from words and not sentences of inculpatory text.
Justice Chavan said: “Ratio laid down in the said decision of Sudhir Chaudhary and others is clearly applicable to the present facts of the case...”
“In the light of observations made above and in view of the fact that the trial will not be concluded in near future, looking at the age of the applicant, and the aspects enumerated hereinabove, no fruitful purpose would be served in incarcerating the applicant behind the bars,” observed the HC while directing Raju’s release on bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs 15,000.