The Supreme Court Friday granted bail to artist Chintan Upadhyay, arrested in connection with the murder of his artist wife and her lawyer in 2015, noting that the petitioner has been in custody for nearly six years.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai noted that "the petitioner has been in custody for nearly six years. The trial is in progress and 28 witnesses have been examined and 12 witnesses are yet to be examined.
"Having scrutinised the record and after hearing the counsel for the parties, we are of the opinion that the petitioner is entitled for bail having been incarcerated for nearly six years," the bench said.
The top court released Upadhyay on bail subject to the condition that he shall reside in any place other than Mumbai and shall visit Mumbai only for the purpose of attending the Court.
"The petitioner shall not make any attempt to influence the witnesses. The petitioner shall surrender the passport in the Trial Court within a period of one week from today.
"The petitioner shall provide the place of his residence to the Trial Court within a period of one week from today. The petitioner shall report to the local police station at the place of his residence on the first date of every month," the bench said.
The trial court may expedite the trial and complete the trial preferably within a period of six months, the apex court said.
The order came on an appeal filed by Upadhyay challenging Bombay high court which junked his bail on the ground that there is incriminating material against the applicant.
Earlier, a local court in Mumbai had also rejected the interim bail plea of Upadhaya observing that the accused lodged in jails are in a "secure situation" compared to the daily working people in society who are exposed to the "outside social atmosphere".
Chintan Upadhaya and another accused Pradeep Rajbhar had sought temporary bail citing a surge in COVID-19 cases, coronavirus variants and the pandemic.
Hema Upadhyay, a Mumbai-based artist, and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani were killed on December 11, 2015 and their bodies disposed of in suburban Kandivali.
Chintan Upadhyay was arrested on December 22, 2015, for the murders.
The other arrested accused are Shiv Kumar Rajbhar, Pradip Kumar Rajbhar, Vijay Kumar Rajbhar and Azad Rajbhar.