ADivision Bench of acting Chief Justice Calcutta High Court, Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee of this court today granted the bail plea of Debjani Mukherjee, an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam. But she will not step out of jail owing to cases against her in other states.
Debjani Mukherjee was arrested on 22 April, 2013. She has been in custody ever since. The court directed that the Mukherjee should be released on bail on furnishing a bond of Rs.2 lakhs with two sureties of Rs.1 lakh each. One of these sureties must be local, to the satisfaction of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Kolkata, the court said.
Mukherjee’s release is subject to the condition that after release, she shall not leave the jurisdiction of the police station within the territorial limit of which her residence is situated except for the purpose of attending court proceedings.
She shall also meet the investigating officer of the case once every week. The Division Bench clarified that the CBI shall be at liberty to summon Mukherjee to its office for the purpose of further investigation and interrogation, if so required.
Moreover, before her release the petitioner shall cause her passport to be deposited with the court concerned. The petitioner shall not make any attempt to contactany of the prosecution witnesses and shall not tamper with evidence in any manner whatsoever. In case of breach of any of the conditions of bail mentioned in this order, the bail shall be liable to be cancelled by the Court below without reference to this High Court, the Bench said.
The Division Bench pointed out that it is not in dispute that the charge-sheet was filed on 22 October, 2014. It follows that the investigation against the accused persons including the petitioner is complete and CBI has not been able to satisfy the court as to why further custodial detention of the petitioner is necessary.
Trial has not started and nobody can say with any certainty when trial will start, the court observed. It does not appear that the trial will conclude within a measurable distance of time and it will indeed be a travesty of justice to keep the petitioner confined in jail any further if after the trial the petitioner is ultimately found to be innocent, it was observed.
It is also not the case of the CBI that the petitioner did not co-operate in the process of investigation and there is no allegation that she is likely to tamper with evidence, it was observed. Bail is still the rule and jail is the exception during or before trial, it was observed. Personal liberty is sacrosanct, it was observed. A person, even an accused, cannot be kept incarcerated except for compelling reasons, it was pointed out.