Dalit murder case: SC gives Guj last chance to file reply

Supreme Court

New Delhi, (Asian independent) The Supreme Court on Monday gave the final opportunity to the Gujarat government to file its reply on an appeal against bail granted to an accused in the murder case of a Dalit man, who was allegedly beaten to death in a factory near Rajkot.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R.S. Reddy and M.R. Shah asked the Gujarat government counsel why the state has not filed its counter affidavit on the appeal against last year’s High Court order, which granted bail to the accused.

In February 2019, the High Court had granted bail to accused Tejas Kanubhai Zala citing weak evidence against him. In November last year, the top court had issued notice in the matter.

Zala and four others allegedly brutally assaulted 35-year-old Dalit ragpicker Mukesh Vaniya with a pipe and a belt from a machine to the extent that he died on the spot.

The bench queried the state government counsel why no response has been filed and warned that such things will not be tolerated. “Why is this happening and even in other (matters), no affidavits are being filed,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Collin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, cited the details of the incident before the bench and also the medical report, which stated that victim had 24 grievous injury marks.

In May 2018, the police arrested five accused, including the owner of Radadiya Industries where the incident allegedly took place, under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. The police also added charges relating to murder and wrongful confinement. The video of the incident was widely circulated on social media, and purportedly showed two people taking turns to beat Vaniya with a stick.

Vaniya’s wife registered police compliant after he died on the way to the hospital.

The bench granted one week time, as a last opportunity, to the state government to file a counter affidavit and posted the matter further hearing next week.