The Hon’ble High Court of Jharkhand granted bail to former BJP MP, Som Marandi and five others on 16.04.2020 who were sentenced to a one-year simple imprisonment for leading the party’s “rail roko” protest in March 2012. The conditions of the bail included depositing Rs. 35,000/- (Rupees Thirty Thousand Only) each to the Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation (PM CARES) fund and downloading the Arogya Setu, a Covid-19 contact-tracing software application launched by the Centre and thereby abide by the directions of the Central Government as well as State Government issued in connection with containment of Covid-19 pandemic.
The said judgement was passed to set aside the judgement pronounced on 16.08.2018 by the Sessions Judge, Sahibganj in Criminal Appeal No. 40 of 2017. The Sessions Court judgement had reaffirmed another judgement which was passed on 18.08.2017 by Anand Mani Tripathi, Railway Judicial Magistrate, Sahibganj that convicted and sentenced the petitioners with simple imprisonment for a period of 1 year for committing an offence under Section 174 (a) Railways Act.
Section 174 (a) of Railways Act states as follows, “174. Obstructing running of train, etc.—If any railway servant (whether on duty or otherwise) or any other person obstructs or causes to be obstructed or attempts to obstruct any train or other rolling stock upon a railway: (a) by squatting or picketing or during any Rail Roko agitation or bandh.”
Rakesh Kumar Sinha, Counsel for the Opposite Party, i.e. the State of Jharkhand, submitted that Railway is an important party to the present case since the complaint was originally devised by an officer of the Railways. Subsequently, Counsel for the petitioners, pleaded to the Court to add Eastern Railways through the General Manager, having his office at Howrah, West Bengal as the Second Opposite Party in the case.
Further, criticising the Sessions Court of Sahibganj and Railway Judicial Magistrate for not considering the merits of the case properly under the provisions of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 while passing the sentence and also stating that the Petitioners were convicted only for a period of one year under Section 174(a) of the Railways Act, the Counsel for the Petitioners prayed to the High Court to grant conditional bail to the Petitioners.
Lastly, granting conditional bail to the Petitioners, Justice Anubha Rawat Choudhary ordered each of them to submit self-attested copies of their Aadhaar cards and provide their mobile numbers before the court. They were asked not to change their contact numbers without the permission of the court.