Former minister of state for home Siddharam Mhetre got some relief after the Supreme Court (SC) granted him anticipatory bail in a murder case on Thursday.
A division bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and KS Panicker directed that Mhetre be released against a personal bond of Rs 50,000 if he is arrested.
Mhetre had approached the SC after the Bombay High Court rejected his anticipatory bail in October 2009.
BJP worker Bhimanna Kore was killed when unidentified gunmen fired at a rally for BJP’s Assembly candidate Siddramappa Patil, at Shevegaon village in Solapur on September 26, 2009.
Mhetre and 29 others were booked for attempt to murder and instigating violence after the first information report said Mhetre had instigated the firing – an allegation some witnesses supported.
Lawyers Prashant Bhushan and Naveen Chomal argued that Mhetre was not in Shevegaon on the day of the incident. Mahesh Jethmalani, counsel for the complainant, opposed the bail, saying the crime was committed at his behest.
Jethmalani claimed Mhetre had attended a meeting in Shevegaon on September 18 and had allegedly instructed his men to kill anyone who created obstructions for him.
The SC, citing a report by the National Police Commission, said: “The power of arrest is grossly abused and clearly violates the personal liberty of the people…When conviction rate is admittedly less than 10%, the police should be slow in arresting the accused...the accused is presumed to be innocent till he is found guilty by the competent court.”