Hyderabad High Court: The Single Judge Bench of the High Court refused to grant bail to the primary accused in the shocking murder case of the Mayor of Chittoor, Smt. Katari Anuradha and her husband Katari Mohan.

Out of the 23 accused in the case, the primary accused is the nephew of the deceased couple. This increased the air of gravity associated with the case. Both the accused and the deceased couple held political clout in the region. The accused was tired of holding a secondary position to the deceased. That along with many other rifts caused the accused to commit the murders. The group entered the Mayor’s Chambers in burqas and opened fire on the Mayor. Eyewitnesses intervened and one of them was severely injured. The other deceased fled the scene but was chased down and shot. The injured were taken to the hospital where the other deceased succumbed to his injuries.

The petitioners have staunchly denied the offence and their previous bail application too was rejected. The counsel for the petitioners claimed that the petitioner has been implicated in the crime by his political rivals. There was a delay in filing the FIR which indicated that the petitioner was roped in at a later stage. He negated the statement of the eyewitnesses stating that it made no sense for the petitioner to mask his identity and reveal it by removing his burqa immediately before firing the fatal shot. He also claimed that the petitioner was a law abiding citizen who had surrendered himself and was in custody for the last nineteen months without being proven guilty.

The Public Prosecutor opposed all these contentions. He stated that the gravity and the brutality of the murder were such that the accused deserved no leniency. It was a daylight murder committed before multiple eye-witnesses which showed the brazenness of the accused. The fact that the accused has the nephew of the deceased only added to the gravity of the crime. The Prosecutor further stated that the accused was already involved in multiple criminal cases and committed this crime while on bail. This shows that there is a chance of him committing some other offences while on bail. There was a scope of witness tampering and misuse of political clout if bail was granted.

The Bench of Durga Prasad Rao, J. accepted the contentions of the Public Prosecutor, relying on the parameters laid down in Virupakshappa Gouda v. State of Karnataka, (2017) 5 SCC 406) : (a) severity or gravity of offence; (b) prima facie accusation against the offender; (c) severity of punishment in the event of conviction; (d) chances of accused absconding if granted bail; (e) the propensity of accused repeating the crimes; and (f) reasonable apprehension of the accused influencing the witness and thwart the course of justice.

Accepting these parameters, bail was denied to the petitioner-accused. [Sriram Chandra Sekhar v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2017 SCC OnLine Hyd 214, decided on 03.07.2017]

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