Considering that 73-year-old Sathyanarayana Rani an accused in the 2019 Gadchiroli Naxal attack, was held in jail despite being granted bail in July 2022, the Bombay High Court has modified his bail conditions and allowed his release upon furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh.
On July 15, the high court granted him bail, stating there was "prima facie no evidence" against Rani, the husband of alleged Maoist leader and co-accused late Nirmala Uppuganti. He was directed to be released upon furnishing a surety of Rs 1 lakh. However, Rani approached the high court seeking modification of the condition, stating that he has no relatives in Mumbai who can stand as surety for him.
Allegations of burning 27 vehicles
Rani and late Uppunganti were arrested in connection with the incident involving the burning of 27 vehicles of an infrastructure company and the detonation of a pressure bomb in Gadchiroli in May 2019, resulting in the death of 15 police personnel and a civilian. Uppuganti passed away earlier this year in a hospice for palliative care due to her terminal illness.
Rani’s counsel Yug Chaudhary submitted that the septuagenarian has no family in Mumbai and is penurious, lacking resources to afford any kind of surety or even provide cash bail. Chaudhary further mentioned that Rani suffers from serious health ailments, including cerebral cavernoma, a focal legion in the left temporal lobe, a history of tremors in both hands, cataract, and disability in his left limb, making walking extremely difficult.
NIA opposes plea
NIA prosecutor Shrikant Sonkawade opposed the plea, arguing that the central agency had approached the Supreme Court challenging his bail.
However, Chaudhary pointed out that the apex court had not stayed the bail granted to Rani, and hence he cannot be detained solely because the appeal is pending before the SC.
A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Gauri Godse, on December 19, modified the bail conditions and directed Rani’s release upon furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh. The high court also instructed him to attend the NIA office on the first Friday of every month, between 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, until the trial concludes. He is further directed not to leave Mumbai and Thane area without the prior permission of the NIA Court.
Additionally, he has been instructed to provide his mobile number, in case he obtains one, to the NIA.