Child In Conflict With Law Gets Bail After 3 Yrs Custody; Orissa High Court Raps Police For ‘Lackadaisical Attitude’.

In the case of Roshni Meher v. State of Odisha (BLAPL No. 4649 of 2021), the Orissa High Court granted bail to a child in conflict with law on Thursday after she remained in custody for over ‘three years’. A Single Judge Bench of Justice V. Narasingh came down heavily on the police for its apathetic approach and observed that proceedings of the High Court cannot be held hostage to the whims of the investigating agency and for their lackadaisical attitude, rights of an accused cannot be marginalised, needs no emphasis.

Factual Background: The petitioner is an accused under Sections 450/307/302/34/120-B of IPC and has been in custody since 08.12.2018. Being aggrieved by the rejection of her bail application on 23rd July 2019 by the Additional Session Judge-Cum-Special Judge POCSO Act, Bargarh, she filed the present bail application. By an order dated 24.06.2021, the High Court took note that the petitioner is a Child in Conflict with Law. Thereafter, it was specifically directed for obtaining a report regarding her conduct and also for production of Case Diary. However, the matter suffered another adjournment on 03.11.2021. On 12th May 2022, when the matter was called for hearing, a prayer was made on behalf of the State for adjournment to produce the Case Diary. The Court perused the records available with the office of the Advocate General. Then, it came to light that by letter dated 24/28.06.2021 the IIC Bijepur District Bargarh was informed to produce the up-to-date Case Diary. Since the same was not responded to, another letter dated 06.11.2021 was addressed to Superintendent of Police Bargarh and IIC Bijepur in the District Bargarh. However, to the utter disappointment, the case diary was not made available to the Court.

Judgement: Having noted the aforesaid, the Court came down heavily on the police for its casual approach. The Court hoped that necessary corrective action shall be taken so as to make the Police machinery more responsive to the needs of administration of justice. Considering the age of the petitioner and the period of custody, the Court decided not to grant any further adjournment to the counsel for the State. After perusing the materials on record, it directed the petitioner to be released on bail on such terms to be fixed by the Court in seisin over the matter. Further, it requested the Registry to send a copy of the order to the Principal Secretary, Home Department, Government of Odisha, Director General of Police, Range DIG and the concerned Superintendent of Police for their knowledge and necessary action.

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