Shillong, Nov 14: The Meghalaya High Court on Monday granted a conditional bail to the BJP state vice president and Tura MDC Bernard N Marak, who was arrested for allegedly running a brothel in his private farm house in West Garo Hills District.
The order was passed by the Single bench, which had stated that Bernard was confined in custody on very flimsy grounds while disposing of a bail application filed by Bernard’s brother Tingku N Marak.
“Accordingly, this petition is allowed. The accused brother of the petitioner, Bernard N. Marak is hereby directed to be released on bail in connection with Tura Women PS Case No. 107(07)2022, if not wanted in any other case, on the following conditions: - that he shall not abscond or tamper with the evidence and witnesses; that he shall appear before the Investigating Officer as and when required; that he shall not to leave the jurisdiction of India without prior permission of the court; and that he shall furnish a personal bond of ₹ 30,000 with two solvent sureties of like amount to the satisfaction of the concerned court.”
The court said it is also noticed that there is no direct evidence linking the accused brother of the petitioner to the alleged sexual assault of the child but that the only prayer of the Investigating Officer (IO) is that since the baby girl was rescued from the farm house of the accused person, therefore, his custodial interrogation is very much essential for the interest of the case.
It also observed that a case of sexual assault particularly involving a minor girl is very serious, however, even the medical report suggests that any sexual assault perpetrated against the child was not of recent origin.
Stating that there is no direct evidence or even indirect evidence linking the Bernard to the said sexual assault, the court said, “There is no impediment to the I/O to carry out the investigation even without the accused person in custody and any relevant evidence collected in course of investigation would be duly considered in course of the proceedings.”
It also added, “Since the accused person was not apprehended along with the minor girl during the said raid, therefore, to say that he is likely to be the offender only because of the fact that he is the owner of the property is too farfetched. On consideration of the facts and circumstances involving the case of the accused brother of the petitioner, keeping in mind the value of liberty of a person who is confined in custody on very flimsy grounds, this Court is of the opinion that the instant petition has some merits.”
On July 26, Bernard N Marak was arrested from Hapur district in Uttar Pradesh, after he allegedly absconded following a sex racket being busted at his private farm house which led to the rescue of 5 minors and arrest of 73 persons.
Bernard N Marak was initially arrested in connection with Tura PS Case No. 166(07)2022 under Section 120/120B/121/121A/109/110 IPC r/w Section 4/5 of the Explosives Substances Act and also in another case being Tura Women PS Case No. 105(07)2022 under Section 3/4/5/6/7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
However, the said accused person was during his incarceration in judicial custody in connection with the abovementioned cases, was also shown arrest in connection with Tura Women PS Case No. 107(07)2022 under Section 5(l)(m)/6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
Earlier on October 1, the single bench had also granted a conditional bail to Bernard while hearing a bail application filed by his wife LK Gracy.