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Posted at: Jan 6, 2017, 1:55 AM; last updated: Jan 6, 2017, 1:02 PM (IST)

14 yrs on, Chhatarpati murder accused granted bail by HC

14 yrs on, Chhatarpati murder accused granted bail by HC
File photo

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5

More than 14 years after he was arrested in Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati murder case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to accused Nirmal Singh.

In his petition against the CBI, Nirmal was seeking bail in the case registered on December 9, 2003, for murder and other offences.

The case was registered on the basis of a statement by the victim’s son Aridhman. 

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Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is also an accused in the case and is presently out on bail.

Chhatarpati,  publisher of eveninger “Poora Sach”, had  allegedly published a letter of a ‘sadhvi’ in May 2002 levelling charges of sexual exploitation. Thereafter, he allegedly received threat calls. The High Court ordered a probe on the letter on September 24, 2002, after seeking a report from the District and Sessions Judge, Sirsa. On October 24, Chhatrapati was shot at and died on November 21.

Petitioner Nirmal Singh had allegedly accompanied co-accused Kuldeep Singh, who allegedly shot Chhatarpati, and was  accused of instigating Kuldeep. Both had tried to escape, but Kuldeep was apprehended by a constable.

A revolver and a sword were “seized” from the petitioner later. Investigations revealed that the revolver belonged to Krishan Lal.

Justice Jaspal Singh asserted: “Undisputedly, the petitioner was arrested on October 26, 2002. He was subjected to custodial interrogation, during which, the revolver allegedly used in the course of occurrence was recovered from him. Co-accused Krishan Lal, who is a licence holder of the revolver which was allegedly used during the course of occurrence, has already been granted bail in 2004, whereas the petitioner is suffering incarceration from the date of his arrest i.e. for the last more than 14 years”.

Justice Jaspal Singh added the trial was stated to be listed for final arguments. But the passing of final order had been stayed by the High Court on a revision petition, preferred by the petitioner’s co-accused, against the order of closing defence evidence. It was “suggestive of the fact that the conclusion of the trial would certainly take considerable time”.

Justice Jaspal Singh observed that a case was made out for grant of bail. “However, taking into consideration the nature of offence(s) complained of against the petitioner and other circumstances, the court concerned may consider with regard to the imposition of some stringent conditions as well as heavy surety bonds,” he concluded. 

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