Bombay High Court Rejects Bail Plea in Minor's Gang Rape Case, Stresses Delay in Trial Not Sufficient Ground

Bombay HC denied bail to accused in minor gang rape case citing delay in trial not sufficient for bail. Directed trial court to expedite proceedings. Case: Somnath Bhivaji Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra & Anr.

The Bombay High Court recently addressed a significant aspect of legal procedure in a case concerning the gang rape of a minor girl. In a ruling delivered by Justice Madhav J. Jamdar, the court emphasized that a mere delay in the trial of serious offenses cannot serve as grounds for granting bail to an accused.

The case in question involved an accused individual facing charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act). Specifically, the accused was charged under Sections 363, 366-A, 376(3), 376-D, and 376-DA of the IPC, as well as Sections 4, 6, 8, and 12 of the POCSO Act.

Justice Jamdar remarked, "Thus, it is evident that mere delay in the trial pertaining to grave offences, by itself cannot be a ground to enlarge an accused on bail, dehors the facts. As noted herein above, this is a case of gang rape. When the incident took place, the victim was 15 years and 5 months old. Therefore, there is no case made out for grant of bail even on the ground of long incarceration."

Representing the applicant, Advocate Sana Raees Khan argued before the court, while Assistant Public Prosecutor Veera Shinde appeared on behalf of the respondents. The applicant had filed a second bail application under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) after the initial application was withdrawn. The counsel for the accused highlighted the lack of progress in the trial since the accused's arrest in October 2020, advocating for bail due to prolonged incarceration.

However, the court took note of the severity of the case, emphasizing the gravity of gang rape. Additionally, it highlighted a significant development wherein the second respondent had expressed no objection to the accused being granted bail. This development, alongside the presence of the victim and second respondent in court, led the court to suspect attempts to influence witnesses.

In light of these concerns, the court deemed it imperative to expedite the trial process. It directed the Trial Court to submit periodic reports every three months to ensure the expeditious conclusion of the trial, aiming for completion within nine months. This direction stemmed from the court's observation of attempts by the accused to influence witnesses and tamper with evidence.

The Bombay High Court thus concluded by disposing of the bail application and issuing necessary directives to ensure the fair and swift administration of justice.