The Bombay High Court order granting bail to SRPF sub-inspector Manohar Kadam has raised several issues regarding his conviction by a sessions court.
On May 7, Kadam was sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering firing on a Dalit mob at Ramabai Nagar in Ghatkopar on July 11, 1997, which resulted in the death of 10 persons.
The mob was protesting the desecration of Dr Ambedkar’s statue in the area.
Kadam then moved the high court. On May 22, the vacation bench of Justice A.V. Nirgude and Justice R.G. Ketkar released him on bail of Rs 50,000 and suspended his sentence, though he had not specifically asked for it.
The HC observed that at the time he ordered the firing, Kadam was not only protected by the “right to self defence” but also by Section 11 of the State Reserve Police Force Act, which states that if there is threat to life or of damage to government or personal property, the police can use force even if it risks causing death.
The HC agreed with the arguments of Kadam’s counsel Raja Thakare that the prosecution failed to get necessary sanction under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Bombay Police Act.
Kadam was prosecuted after obtaining the relevant sanction under the SRPF Act. The prosecution had opposed this arguing it was no more relevant.
The HC, however, said it indicated a serious lapse on the part of the prosecution.
“In our view the lack of sanction under the Bombay Police Act and CrPC deserves serious consideration and we think the appellant has a strong defence based on this objection.”
The HC took serious note of the trial judge not believing prosecution witnesses.
The trial judge had discarded their testimonies on the grounds that they were working under Kadam and so would take his side.
“Suffice it to say that there is a strong defence based on appreciation of evidence and the appellant will be able to argue this at the time of final hearing,” the high court said.
It said the offence committed by Kadam was grave, but the nature of the accusations must also be considered.
“Admittedly though there occurred 10 deaths, the prosecution does not accuse the appellant of committing murders. This makes a big difference in the nature of accusation,” the HC said.