HC grants bail to rape and murder case accused due to long pre-trial incarceration | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

HC grants bail to rape and murder case accused due to long pre-trial incarceration

Feb 25, 2024 07:04 AM IST

Bombay HC grants bail to Akshay Walode in rape-murder case after 6.5 years, citing delays in trial. Justice emphasizes no steps taken to proceed with trial.

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court granted bail to Akshay Walode, an accused in a rape-and-murder case, citing his pre-trial incarceration of around six-and-a-half years. Justice Bharati Dangre emphasised that the accused cannot be asked to wait further for the trial when no steps are being taken to proceed with it.

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“Considering the long period of incarceration of the applicant, he cannot be asked to wait more and undergo further incarceration, when no serious steps are being taken to proceed ahead with the trial,” said the single judge bench of justice Dangre while granting bail to the accused.

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Justice Dangre added that the accused cannot be incarcerated indefinitely awaiting trial, despite him facing a charge of serious offences and he would ultimately face the consequences at the culmination of the trial.

The incident occurred on September 4, 2017, in Ambarnath East. Walode and two others had stayed in a flat along with the victim – the girlfriend of his friend and co-accused Nikalesh Patil. The duo along with their third accomplice, Nilesh Khobragade, allegedly took turns raping the woman.

According to the charge sheet filed by the Shivaji Nagar police station in Ambarnath East, Walode and Patil allegedly smothered the victim to death after she started shouting for help and threatened to report them to the police. The trio then packed her body in a bag and dumped it in a roadside gutter in the Belgaum district of Karnataka.

Walode on January 3 moved to the high court for bail. His counsel, advocate Prashant Pandey, pointed out to the court that in September 2022, the high court had disposed of his earlier bail plea by directing the trial court to frame the charge against the accused in six months and conclude the trial within one year thereafter.

Advocate Pandey added that though accordingly charges were framed against the accused on July 12, 2022, the trial has not started. He said for the first time witness summons was issued on January 20 – around a fortnight after he filed for bail, but no witness was examined.

Justice Dangre accepted the contention and ordered Walode to be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond of 5,000 and one or two sureties in the same amount after noticing that the charge appeared to be framed only on the insistence of the high court and none of the 61 witnesses cited by the prosecution had been examined even after the passage of one and half year after the earlier high court order.

The court also highlighted the fact that time and again the Supreme Court and the High Court have taken a consistent view that the liberty of an individual is of utmost importance and accused persons, irrespective of the seriousness of the allegations, cannot be incarcerated indefinitely.

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    Special Correspondent. I have spent over a decade covering courts in Mumbai, primarily the Bombay High Court, and including several important trials like trial of 120 accused in March 1993 Mumbai bombings, 26/11 case - trial of Ajmal Kasab.

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