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GNLA chairman Champion Sangma sets to walk free

 

SHILLONG: GNLA chairman Champion Sangma is set to walk free after the Supreme Court has ordered his immediate release while berating the State Government for illegal detention of former Meghalaya police officer

A Bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan   also set aside the order passed by Additional District Magistrate (Judicial) allowing an application made by the prosecution against the release of Sangma.

The Court in its order noted that the application, which prayed for rejection of bail application of Sangma was itself defective, as Sangma had never filed any such bail application.

Advocates Liz Mathew, Shahrukh Alam and Philip Mathew represented the petitioner. Advocates Ranjan Mukherjee, Daniel Stone Lyngdott and Subhro Sanyal appeared for the respondents.

There were several criminal cases which are registered against the petitioner and some of the cases are still pending. He had been granted bail except in Case GR No. 72/2011 in which chargesheet No. 11/2012 dated February 29, 2012 had been filed.

After the registration of FIR in the case sometime in the year 2011, the petitioner could not be arrested as, according to the respondent, he had absconded. He was declared an absconder and chargesheet was filed in the year 2012. The record of the said case, which was summoned by the Supreme Court, revealed that the last order was that of October 01, 2012 when the case was adjourned to December 13, 2012. Thereafter, there were no proceedings in this case. When the case rested at that stage in the aforesaid matter as mentioned above, the petitioner was arrested in relation to his involvement in other cases as well.

However, the petitioner had been granted bail in all such cases by the concerned Courts. As on January 2018, the position was that the petitioner had been granted bail in the pending cases against him and, therefore, in normal course, he should have been released from custody. But an application was made with respect to GR No. 72/2011, by the prosecution in the Court of Additional District Magistrate (Judicial), Resubelpara, North Garo Hills, Meghalaya. The application stated that the petitioner had submitted a bail application in the Court and a request was made that the said bail application be rejected.

By an order dated January 24, 2018, the court allowed the prayer in the application. The effect of this order by the ADM was that the petitioner was kept in custody even though he was not arrested in the aforesaid case and had already been granted bail in all other cases.

The Apex court said that though the prosecution has moved an application before the Court of Additional District Magistrate (Judicial), North Garo Hills, opposing the bail application made by the petitioner in the Court, in fact, no such bail application was ever filed by the petitioner. There was no question of filing any bail application in the first place as the petitioner was never arrested in this case.

When the aforesaid application of the prosecution purportedly opposing the bail application of the petitioner was filed, the learned Additional District Magistrate (Judicial) did not have any records of the case except the application which was put up before him and the averments made therein.

No notice of this application was ever served upon the petitioner. The application was considered exparte and treating the averments made in the said application as gospel truth, the prayer made in the application was allowed.

The Court observed that the order passed by the ADM was non-est, nullity and without any jurisdiction as the application by the prosecution was not admissible under any provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The Court also held that the manner in which the State proceeded in the matter is impermissible, illegal and violative of Article 21. The Supreme Court has been communicated to the State Government.

 

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