Suspended RJD MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav, accused of allegedly raping a minor girl, will continue to remain in jail as the Supreme Court today cancelled the bail granted to him by the Patna High Court.
"In a given case, if it is found that there is a possibility of interdicting fair trial by the accused if released on bail, this public interest of fair trial would outweigh the personal interest of the accused while undertaking the task of balancing the liberty of the accused on the one hand and interest of the society to have a fair trial on the other hand,” a bench of Justices A K Sikri and A M Sapre said.
"When the witnesses are not able to depose correctly in the court of law, it results in low rate of conviction and many times even hardened criminals escape conviction. It shakes public confidence in the criminal justice delivery system," the bench added.
The court said that there is need to ensure that criminal justice delivery system works "efficiently", "smoothly" and in a "fair manner" and it has to be given prime importance in such situations.
"For the foregoing reasons, we allow this appeal thereby setting aside the order of the high court. In case the respondent (Yadav) is already released, he shall surrender and/or taken into custody forthwith. In case he is still in jail, he will continue to remain in jail as a consequence of this judgement," the bench said.
It noted that the prosecutrix has already been examined in the trial court, but a few other material witnesses, including father and sister of the prosecutrix, are yet to be examined.
"As per the records, threats were extended to the prosecutrix as well as her family members. Therefore, we feel that the high court should not have granted bail to the respondent (Yadav) ignoring all the material and substantial aspects pointed out by us, which were the relevant considerations," the court said.
The bench said that the prime consideration is to protect the fair trial and ensure that justice is done which can be done, only if witnesses depose fearlessly and freely.
"This may happen only if the witnesses are able to depose without fear, freely and truthfully and this court is convinced that in the present case, that can be ensured only if the respondent is not enlarged on bail," it said, adding that it was not a fit case for grant of bail at this stage and "grave error" was committed by the High Court.
The apex court had on November 8 directed Yadav to surrender before a trial court in Bihar after suspending the high court order granting bail to him for two weeks to enable the alleged rape victim to depose before the court.
Yadav had complied with the direction. It had also directed the trial court to record the statement of the minor rape survivor within two weeks and had asked Yadav not to interfere in the matter in any manner.
It had earlier rejected Yadav's plea to remain outside Bihar till the victim deposed before the trial court and felt that the RJD legislator should remain in jail till the victim records her statement "fairly and without any fear".
It had said it was "more concerned" about the safety of the girl.
The apex court had on October 18 directed the trial court not to record the testimony of the victim till October 24 after the state government submitted that she felt threatened due to the accused being out on bail.
Yadav had allegedly raped the minor girl at his residence in Bihar Sharif on February 6 this year. After evading arrest for a considerable time, he surrendered after a local court had issued proclamation notice and an order to attach his properties for not surrendering before the police.
Bihar Police, in its charge sheet, had also named a woman and her relatives as accused on the ground that they had been allegedly "supplying women" to the MLA representing Nawada Assembly constituency. RJD had suspended Yadav from the party on February 14, a day after his arrest warrant was issued.