The Supreme Court has set aside Odisha High Court order granting bail to top billionaire businessman, Mahimananda Mishra, an accused in a murder case.
A two-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao and also comprising Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, on Tuesday allowed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the Odisha government challenging the state High Court's order which had granted bail to accused Mishra.
The top court bench said in its order, "Since the accused is an influential person in terms of money and muscle power, there is a reasonable apprehension that he might tamper with or adversely influence the investigation, which is still going on, or he might intimidate witnesses before or during the trial."
A senior advocate R. Basant appeared for the victim, Mahendra Swain, and strongly opposed the bail of Mishra on the ground that if the accused would be given bail, he might tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses in the case.
According to the prosecution, there was a business rivalry between accused Mishra and the deceased, Swain, which caused the murder of the latter.
"The murder was committed at the behest of certain people including accused Mishra, who had also given death threats to the deceased directly and through the brother of the deceased," the prosecution also claimed.
Ordering for the forthwith arrest of the accused, Mishra, the apex court, in its order, said "The High Court was not justified in going into the evidence on record in such a depth which amounts to ascertaining the probability of the accused. On the other hand, the High Court has failed to appreciate several criminal factors that indicate that it was highly inappropriate to grant bail in favour of the accused."
Ranjeet Kumar, the Senior Supreme Court lawyer and the former Solicitor General (SG) appearing for the accused Mishra, argued that though the businessman was released on bail in May 2018, absolutely no allegations are forthcoming by the police against the accused after that. There are also no allegations against him since he was granted bail by the High Court.
Kumar further submitted that there was also no allegation of abscondence against the respondent. Merely on the apprehension of the police, without any prima facie proof, the liberty of the respondent cannot be curtailed. He further submitted that any additional condition may be imposed on the respondent by this Court.
It was strongly opposed by the prosecution that the accused should not be enlarged on bail.
It is to be noted that as per industrial and other data, Mishra is believed to be the second largest billionaire businessman of Odisha.