The Rajasthan high court cleared four defendants in connection with the 2008 Jaipur serial blasts earlier this year, and the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered their release provided their incarceration was not necessary in another case.
The high court’s decision was not overturned as two special leave pleas (SLPs) brought by the families of the deceased and the state government opposed the ruling was heard by a bench of justices led by Abhay Okra and Rajesh Bindal.
Four convicts who received the death penalty in 2019 by a trial court—Mohammad Saif, 32; Mohammad Sarvar, 36; Saif-Ur-Rahman, 36; and Salman, 34—were freed on March 29 by the high court. However, they have not yet been made public.
On Wednesday, the state, represented by Attorney General (AG) of India R Venkataramani, argued for the continuation of the accused’s detention pursuant to Section 390 (arrest of accused in an appeal from acquittal) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the court ruled that such a drastic measure cannot be taken without hearing from the defendant.
“Even if you’re right, the AG, we need to carefully evaluate the facts and the strength of the case before making such a severe decision. Otherwise, it would be a serious order to make that people would remain in detention after being found not guilty until the appeal was decided. As a result, we must focus on the case’s merit, the bench declared.
The top court had stated that the accused could be released on conditional bail if they are not wanted in other instances, according to attorney Aditya Jain, who represented the relatives of the victims. But they are sought after in other circumstances, he added.
The Supreme Court outlined the terms of bail, stating that the accused must comply with the high court’s judgment on bail bonds as well as give their passports to the state government. The bench further stated that if the accused do not show up when required to appear before the state anti-terrorism squad, the Rajasthan government may file an application.
The accused must attend daily between 10 am and 12 pm at their respective police stations, the bench said. It further stated that the accused cannot use the high court ruling to obtain bail in other matters. The next hearing will take place on August 9 before a full bench presided over by CJI DY Chanchachud, according to the court.
On May 13, 2008, nine ammonium nitrate bombs mounted on bicycles detonated over the course of 25 minutes, between 7:20 and 7:45, in the congested neighborhoods of Jaipur, leaving 71 persons dead and 185 injured. A bomb disposal team utilized a live explosive that was discovered close to Ramchandra Temple to defuse it. Indian Mujahideen (IM), a terrorist organization, took responsibility for the explosions.
Five people were charged in the case, with the last charge sheet being brought in 2011; the trial in the case started in December 2008. In 2019, the Jaipur trial court found one of the defendants not guilty and executed the other four.
A special court sentenced four individuals to death in December 2019 (Mohammad Saif, Mohammad Salman, Saifurrehman, and Mohammad Sarvar Azmi) while acquitting Shahbaz Hussain.
The four people who were given the execution penalty filed an appeal against the trial court’s ruling while the state administration argued against Shahbaz Hussain’s exoneration in the high court.
The supreme court cleared all four defendants on March 29 of this year. Additionally, it criticized the “shoddy investigation” conducted by the investigating agencies.