Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bernard N Marak was granted bail by the Meghalaya high court in a case pertaining to the alleged rape of a three-year-old girl at his farmhouse in West Garo Hills district.
Marak, an elected member of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council and also the state BJP vice-president, was earlier granted bail in connection with the running of a brothel in the farmhouse and the seizure of arms and ammunition from the premises.
Passing the bail order on Monday in the final case pending against him related to the farmhouse, a single bench of Justice W Diengdoh observed that there was no direct evidence linking Marak to the alleged sexual assault of the child, and noted that the politician was confined on 'very filmsy grounds'.
The BJP leader was directed not to leave the country or try to tamper with the evidence, and asked to appear before the investigating officer as and when required, besides paying a personal bond of Rs 30,000 with two solvent sureties of like amount.
Disposing of the bail petition filed by the BJP leader's brother Tingku N Marak, the court stated that the accused was not apprehended along with the girl during a raid on his farmhouse, and to say that he is likely to be the offender only due to the fact that he is the owner of the property is 'too far fetched'.
'On consideration of the facts and circumstances involving the case of the accused brother of the petitioner, keeping in mind the value of liberty of a person who is confined in custody on very flimsy grounds, this court is of the opinion that the instant petition has some merits,' it stated.
On July 26, Bernard N Marak was arrested from Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh after he allegedly absconded following the busting of a 'sex racket' at his farmhouse that led to the rescue of 25 minors and arrest of 73 people.
The three-year-old girl was among those found in the farmhouse.
Her medical examination confirmed that she was sexually abused and during further investigation, Marak was named among the accused.
However, the examination stated that sexual abuse perpetrated against her was not of recent origin.
She has been placed in a children's home.
Following nearly a month in police custody, Marak was remanded to judicial custody, and he was in prison for the last three months.
Earlier, on October 1, the court granted bail to Marak in cases related to the farmhouse, while hearing a bail application filed by his wife L K Gracy.