The Supreme Court has criticised a Bombay high court order granting bail to three accused in a 2014 sensational murder case of Pune-based techie Shaikh Mohsin and said a court cannot make observations which may appear to be "coloured with a bias for or against a community".
The top court set aside the order of Bombay high court of January 12, 2017, by which it had granted bail to all the three accused in the case.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao set aside the high court's decision to grant bail to the accused who were allegedly members of right wing outfit Hindu Rashtra Sena, saying it was difficult to understand why the high court said that "the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion".
"We have no doubt that a court, fully conscious of the plural composition of the country, while called upon to deal with rights of various communities, cannot make such observations which may appear to be coloured with a bias for or against a community," the bench said.
Critical of the views expressed by the high court, the top court said, "It is possible that the judge wanted to rule out a personal motive against the victim, but only emphasised communal hatred. It is also possible that the single judge may not have intended to hurt the feelings of any particular community or support the feelings of another community but the words are clearly vulnerable to such criticism. The direction cannot be sustained."
The apex court further said "the fact that the deceased belonged to a certain community cannot be a justification for any assault, much less a murder".
The high court had in the bail order observed that "the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. Moreover, the applicants/accused do not have criminal record and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder."
The apex court said the single judge of the high court may not have intended to hurt the feelings of any community but the words were clearly vulnerable to such criticism.
It allowed the appeal of the brother of the deceased and directed the accused to be taken into custody and their bail application to be heard afresh by the high court.
The top court said the bail applications of the accused should be decided by the high court within six weeks.
Mohsin was assaulted and killed by a group of around 25 people for allegedly sporting a beard and wearing a pastel green-coloured shirt while he was on his way with his friend to have dinner.
The accused were alleged to be "highly motivated" after attending a meeting of Hindu Rashtra Sena, half an hour before the incident and ended up assaulting the victim.
The sessions court had rejected bail to the accused saying "the deceased was assaulted because he looked like a Muslim and that the deceased prima facie had no concern with disgracing Shivaji Maharaj."
Image: Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, a young software professional was killed on his way home from dinner in Pune.