Chhattisgarh jail turns safe shelter to terrified villagers against marauding wild elephants

MUMBAI: Observing that the accused lodged in jails are in a “secure situation” compared to the daily working people in society who are exposed to the “outside social atmosphere”, a court here had rejected the interim bail plea of Chintan Upadhaya, arrested in connection with the murder of his artist wife and her lawyer in 2015, and another accused who had sought the relief citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

A detailed order of the court was made available on Tuesday.

Chintan Upadhaya and Pradeep Rajbhar had sought temporary bail citing a surge in COVID-19 cases, coronavirus variants and the pandemic.

Hema Upadhyay, a Mumbai-based artist, and her lawyer Haresh Bhambhani were killed on December 11, 2015 and their bodies disposed of in suburban Kandivali.

Denying them relief, additional sessions judge D D Khoche said jail authorities are taking care of inmates “at their level best and therefore the pandemic could not effectively spread in the prison”.

“Rather, as compared with the daily-working people in the society who are usually exposed to the outside social atmosphere, applicants/accused can be observed as comparatively in a secure situation in the jail,” the judge noted.

He further observed that the second wave of the pandemic is now under control.

“Though this court may understand the feelings of the accused, even pains that they are kept in jail under this fearful situation of COVID-19, in view of the proceeding of the trial and for want of the recommendation to release the accused in a murder case on interim bail.

(But) the court cannot consider their situation, because it is the case beyond its limitation,” the court added.

The court on Tuesday directed the prosecution to produce witnesses to testify before the court from the next hearing which is scheduled on July 27.

However, the trial couldn’t progress due to the pandemic.

Chintan Upadhyay was arrested on December 22, 2015, for the murders and is currently in judicial custody.

The other arrested accused are Shiv Kumar Rajbhar, Pradip Kumar Rajbhar, Vijay Kumar Rajbhar and Azad Rajbhar.

Another accused Vidhyadhar continues to be absconding.