Orissa High Court rapped for bail to convicted BJP legislator


New Delhi : The Supreme Court has set aside the Orissa High Court order granting bail to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Manoj Kumar Pradhan, convicted and sentenced for murder in a case of the 2008 Kandhamal anti-Christian riots, ruling that a public representative could not be treated differently.

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A bench of Justice B.Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S.Nijjar assailed the high court for being carried away by the fact of Pradhan being the sitting legislator and not taking into account the serious nature of the allegations and his alleged involvement in more than one such case.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Reddy said the high court failed to take into account that Pradhan was involved in more than one case of rioting. “This fact has not been taken into consideration at all by the high court,” he said in the ruling delivered Tuesday but made available Friday.

Remitting the matter back to the high court “for its fresh consideration in accordance with law”, the bench asked the high court to record its reasons about its findings after the fresh consideration of the matter.

“The high court did not record even a single reason confining the relief of releasing on bail only to the respondent (Pradhan), though there are two appellants in the appeal preferred challenging the judgment of the trial court,” the court noted.

“What are the reasons for confining the relief only to the respondent herein and directing his release? The only reason appears to be the fact that the respondent is a sitting MLA (legislator),” the judgment said.

The apex court pointed out that the law “does not make any distinction between the representatives of the people and others accused of criminal offences. Neither they can claim any privilege nor can it be granted by any court. The law treats all equally.”

In the instant case, Kanak Rekha Naik moved the apex court challenging the July 7, 2010, high court verdict granting bail to Pradhan. She is the widow of a man who was killed and burnt in Kandhamal riots.

Pradhan, who faced 12 cases for his involvement in the riots, was convicted in two for murder and acquitted in over half a dozen relating to arson and rioting. He had been sentenced to seven years in the case of Naik’s murder.