Taking note of his past conduct and serious nature of the offence alleged, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the bail plea of controversial RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, who is facing trial in the 1998 Ajit Sarkar murder case. Sarkar was a CPI-M MLA in Bihar.
Dismissing his appeal against the April 27, 2006 order of the Patna High Court, which had rejected his bail application, a Bench of Justice SB Sinha and Justice Markandey Katju ordered that no court would further entertain his bail applications in this case.
"We make it clear that no further application for bail will be considered in this case by any court, as already a large number of bail applications have been rejected earlier, both by the High Court and this court," the Bench said.
Without setting a deadline for conclusion of the trial, the Bench directed the trial court to ensure that defence witnesses were examined on a day-to-day basis in accordance with a fixed time schedule so that the trial was concluded as expeditiously as possible and the judgment is delivered soon thereafter.
The CBI witnesses had already been examined.
The court said "it would, in our opinion, be wholly inappropriate to grant bail when not only the investigation is over but the trial (too) is partly over, and the allegations against the appellant (Pappu) are serious."
The court noted how his bail application was rejected in the past and the jail authorities in Patna were not in a position to control his illegal activities. Pappu was shifted from Beur Jail, Patna to Tihar Jail, Delhi on the orders of the apex court.
Contending that speedy trial was part of his fundamental right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, Pappu had sought bail on the ground that he had already spent over six years in jail and that the trial was likely to get delayed further.
However, the court said "while it is true that Article 21 is of great importance because it enshrines the fundamental right to individual liberty, at the same time a balance has to be struck between the right to individual liberty and the interest of society."
"No right can be absolute, and reasonable restrictions can be placed on them. One of the considerations in deciding whether to grant bail to an accused or not is whether he has been in jail for a long time, (but) the court has also to take into consideration other facts and circumstances, such as the interest of the society," it said.
It also dismissed the fact of his being a four-time MP, saying, "in our opinion, this is wholly irrelevant. The law is no respecter of persons, and is the same for every one."
Additional Solicitor General Amarendra Sharan had pointed out that the accused himself was partly responsible for the delay in conclusion of the trial because most of the prosecution witnesses were cross-examined by his counsel for several days, mostly being asked irrelevant questions.
This was a deliberate dilatory tactic used by Pappu for delaying the trial so that he could seek bail on the basis of the delay, the ASG had said.
To his submission that he could not conduct his defence effectively being in jail, the court said, "if this argument is to be accepted, then logically in every case bail has to be granted. We cannot accept such a contention."