SC cancels bail granted to ex-Jharkhand minister Yogendra Sao
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled the bail of former Jharkhand minister Yogendra Sao, against whom several cases of rioting and instigating violence have been registered.
A bench headed by Justice S A Bobde said it is satisfied that have been breach of bail conditions imposed on Sao in December 2017 as his "unauthorised presence" was found in Jharkhand. Sao had been directed to stay in Bhopal.
The apex court comprising justices S A Nazeer and Indira Banerjee transferred the trial in 18 criminal cases against Sao and his MLA wife Nirmala Devi, an accused in similar cases, from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand to Ranchi.
However, the top court rejected the state government's plea seeking cancellation of Devi's bail, saying the deviations in bail conditions in her case were minor in nature.
It refused to accept Devi's prayer to allow her to stay in Patna instead of Bhopal.
On January 21, the Jharkhand government had told the apex court that Sao was threatening an investigating officer posted in Barkagaon police station in Hazaribagh district and a case has been registered against him.
The state government had asked for cancellation of Sao and Devi's bail, saying they were not staying in Bhopal as directed by the top court and also did not attend trial court proceedings when they were in Jharkhand.
On January 15, the apex court had asked Sao and his wife to explain on how many occasions they did not attend trial court proceedings despite being in the state.
The top court had also asked the couple about the circumstances in which they were out of Bhopal, saying the exception granted to them was that they would enter Jharkhand only to attend trial court proceedings.
Both Sao and Devi were granted bail on December 15, 2017, by the top court and they were directed to stay in Bhopal as a bail condition.
They were allowed to visit Jharkhand only for court hearings under police protection after intimating Bhopal superintendent of police.
The Jharkhand government has said that out of 260 days, Sao had been in Jharkhand for more than 150 days and hardly spent 25 days in Bhopal.
It has claimed that Sao travelled out of Bhopal on 24 occasions, out of which he travelled to Delhi a dozen times.
It has said that in 11 cases registered against Sao, charges were not framed by the trial judge as he did not appear before the court despite directions from the top court.
It has said several criminal cases were pending against the couple. The cases are at various stages of trial, including at the level of framing of charges, where their presence is needed.
The apex court had taken exception to the charge framing order passed by a court in Jharkhand through instant messaging application WhatsApp. It had wondered how this kind of a "joke" was allowed to happen in a court of law in India.
A lower judge in Hazaribagh district had put Sao on trial by pronouncing the order framing charges against them through a WhatsApp call.
Both Sao and Devi had challenged the order in apex court, saying the trial judge had on April 19 last year framed charges against them through a WhatsApp call despite they raising objections to it.
The apex court took serious note of it and observed that this process cannot be allowed, and administration of justice cannot be allowed to be brought into disrepute. The couple had sought transfer of their cases from Jharkhand to New Delhi.
Both Devi and Sao were accused in a case relating to violent clashes between villagers and police in 2016 in which four persons were killed.
Sao was a minister in the Hemant Soren government in August 2013.