SRINAGAR: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on Tuesday denied bail to an accused in the lynching of police officer Mohammad Ayub Pandith outside Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid in 2017. A bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar recorded that this was a case where a police officer was lynched to death by a mob of which the appellant is alleged to be a part. “Bail in such heinous and serious offences cannot be granted as a matter of course,” the bench said. Advocate Nazir Ronga, representing the appellant Peerzada Waseem, submitted before court that the witnesses examined against the accused had turned hostile and two of the witnesses had stated that they were “forcibly” asked to give their statements under police pressure. The court while hearing the submission recorded that at the stage of granting bail, a detailed examination of evidence and elaborate documentation of the merit of the case cannot be undertaken.
“What is the effect of statements of hostile witnesses would be a moot point to be decided during the course of trial of the main case and cannot be decided during bail proceedings,” the court pointed out.
It was noted by the court that the mere fact that material witnesses have turned hostile by itself is not sufficient to grant bail, because of the simple reason that the court cannot imagine what would happen till the disposal of the case.
It was recorded that if the court were to accept or rely upon the evidence of the prosecution recorded by the trial court, it would amount to appreciation of evidence on record which is impermissible in these proceedings.
“Till the completion of evidence and the trial, appreciation of evidence at the time of granting or rejecting bail, this court cannot step into the shoes of the trial court for the purposes of appreciating the material on record,” the bench said.
On the occasion of Shabi-Qadar on June 22, 2017, Dy SP Mohammad Ayoub Pandit was lynched to death by a mob outside the Jamia mosque in Srinagar.
After police conducted an investigation of the case, the challan was presented before the trial court against 20 accused.
Out of these, 17 accused were arrested and produced before the trial court at the time of presentation of challan whereas one accused, Sajad Ahmad Gilkar, was killed in an encounter prior to presentation of the challan.