HC rejects bail to six Army officials charged with murder

Accused involved in dispute over repaying victim loan of ₹1 lakh

The Bombay High Court recently denied anticipatory bail to six Army officers charged with the murder of a retired colleague.

The police said Ganesh Thokal and his wife were residing at Kamargaon in Ahmednagar district after retirement. Last year, the accused visited them and a quarrel broke out over Bhagwan Yadav, an accused, not repaying Thokal a loan of ₹1 lakh.

On September 5, Thokal was called by Mr. Yadav to Pune and he told his wife he was with his colleagues at Murud-Kashid and would return the next night. On September 7, at 7.30 a.m., Thokal’s body was brought to his house. The wife saw injuries on Thokal’s right eye and right ear and filed a complaint against the six colleagues.

An FIR was filed and they were charged under Sections 302 (punishment for committing murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. According to her, Thokal could not have drowned as he was a good swimmer. Her advocate submitted photographs to Justice S.V. Kotwal that showed Mr. Yadav overpowering Thokal and said it corroborated the injuries on the face. He argued that none of the accused tried to save Thokal and the murder was a deliberate act.

The court said the post-mortem report mentioned the cause of death as ‘asphyxia due to drowning’. The Bench said, “There is a clear opinion that the black eye in this case was termed ecchymosis. These bruises appear after sustaining injury by blunt force. They do not occur due to post-mortem violence. This opinion is very significant. It is more than clear that the black eye was the result of blunt trauma caused by injury. It was not a post-mortem injury. It was caused before death. Since morning, the deceased admittedly was with the accused till his death.”

The Bench said this “piece of medical evidence is incriminating against the accused” and their custodial interrogation is necessary to understand the true events leading to the death. Rejecting the anticipatory bail pleas, the court said, “This also has to be seen in the background of the allegations made by the widow that there was a dispute regarding ₹1 lakh and there was a quarrel prior to the date of the incident.”

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