Honour killing: Accused should have waited for conclusion of trial before taking bail, says SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday took note of the grant of bail to an accused in a case of honour killing in which a Kerala youth was shot dead in 2017 allegedly at the instance of his in-laws for marrying a Rajasthan-based girl of other caste, saying he should have waited for conclusion of trial.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, which had earlier cancelled the bail of accused Mukesh Choudhary, brother-in-law of deceased Amit Nair, was irked over the fact that the benefit of bail was granted to him by a “two-sentence” order and despite the fact that the trial in the case was still pending.

“What is this order. Why can’t they wait. The anxiety of your client to get bail before trial is not correct. We had previously cancelled the bail. They should have waited for the trial to be completed,” the bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, said.

After hearing submissions from lawyers representing Rajasthan, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Mamta Nair, widow of Amit Nair and the counsel for Choudhary, the apex court reserved its order seeking cancellation of bail.

Mamta, Jaipur-based girl, had married Amit, a Nair from Kerala and a friend of Mukesh Choudhary , against the wishes of her parents in August 2015. Two years later in May, 2017, Jeewanram Chaudhary and Bhagwani Devi, parents of the woman, allegedly orchestrated their son-in-law Amit Nair’s murder in Jaipur.

The police alleged the parents of the woman entered her residence along with an unknown accomplice who shot Amit and a second accomplice waited in a car outside.

At the outset, Jaising said, “This is not an ordinary case. This is a blatant case of honour killing in which the husband of a woman who married against her family’s wishes was shot dead at point blank range. Accused was granted bail, against which I have come. There is a case of criminal conspiracy. His only defence is he was not present there. The girl was pregnant.”

The senior lawyer said honour killings are prevalent in Rajasthan and in the present case, the bail of the brother of the woman was rejected on two previous occasions. “Earlier we had cancelled his bail,” the CJI said.

Jaising said as she was arguing in the top court, she is getting the information that now the mother of the woman has been granted bail in the case. The counsel for the state government also supported the plea of Jaising and said that the bail granted to accused Manoj by the high court be cancelled.

However, the counsel for the accused said that he was an engineer and was not present at the place of incident and moreover, he has been accused of hatching conspiracy and for that effect no evidence has been brought before the trial court.

Moreover, only 21 prosecution witnesses, out of 46, have been examined during the trial by the prosecution and the accused cannot be allowed to languish in jail, the counsel for Manoj Choudhary said. “That is good for you. If there is no evidence, you will come out of this. Wait for the trial to be completed,” the bench said while reserving the order on the plea of Mamta Nair.

The FIR was lodged by Amit’s mother Rama Devi in Jaipur on May 17, 2017 under sections 452 (house trespass), 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Amit had studied civil engineering and started a construction business while Mamta is an LLB graduate and had interned with an NGO.