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Ex-Jharkhand minister lands in jail after seeking SC nod to campaign in LS polls

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 4, 2019  | 21:03 IST

By Manohar Lal New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) Former Jharhand minister and Congress leader Yogendra Sao, out on bail, was sent back to jail by the Supreme Court Thursday which trashed his plea seeking to campaign in home state for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Sao became a minister in the Hemant Soren-led UPA government in Jharkhand in 2013 and was made an accused in over a dozen cases of rioting and instigation of violence. He sought permission from the apex court to campaign for the party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in the Jharkhand. The BJP-led state government simultaneously moved the apex court seeking cancellation of the bail to Sao and his MLA wife Nirmala Devi claiming that they both violated the bail conditions imposed by the top court. Both Sao and Devi were granted bail on December 15, 2017, by the top court and directed to stay in Bhopal as a bail condition. They were allowed to visit Jharkhand only for court hearings under police protection after intimating Bhopal superintendent of police. A bench of Justices S A Bobde, S Abdul Nazeer and Indira Banerjee rejected their plea allowing them to visit Jharkhand for a month for electioneering saying that they were influential persons and do not deserve any indulgence. "You both have failed the trust we reposed upon you. We are disappointed by your conduct. You don't deserve any indulgence," said the miffed bench. The bench, however, refused to cancel the bail of Devi saying her deviations in bail conditions are not substantial keeping in mind that she was a MLA. The top court transferred the trial of 18 cases against Sao and Devi to Ranchi from Hazaribagh district in the state. It, however, refused to allow the plea of Devi to let her stay in Patna instead of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The bench said it is satisfied that there has been breach of bail conditions imposed on Sao as his "unauthorised presence" was found in Jharkhand while he was directed to stay in Bhopal. The court said it was found that Sao left Bhopal on several occasions without any intimation to local authorities despite direction from the court and his presence in Jharkhand during the corresponding period was not disputed. "We are satisfied that the conditions reposed by the court in its December 15, 2017, order has been breached. We therefore cancel the bail...," the bench said. At the outset, advocate Tapesh Kumar Singh, appearing for Jharkhand government said that since Sao was granted bail on December 15, 2017, out of 253 days he has lived in Bhopal only for 25 days. He said that Sao used to leave Bhopal without any intimation to local authorities despite direction from the court his presence in Jharkhand during the corresponding period can be established through flight tickets and call details records. Singh claimed that Sao had even threatened a police officer who is a witness in one of the case and an arrest warrant is pending against him. The state government also produced a letter of public prosecutor in one of the case, in which he has written about an attempt to influence him by Sao who promised him promotion. Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for Sao disputed the statements of state government counsel saying that out of 317 days of court hearing in Jharkhand he has attended 213 hearing during the period. He sought one more opportunity to establish his bona fide saying he would abide by all the conditions to which the bench said that it cannot give any indulgence. Both Devi and Sao were accused in a case relating to violent clashes between villagers and police in 2016 in which four persons were killed. Devi, a Congress MLA, had led an agitation against NTPC authorities for their alleged attempt to forcibly evacuate villagers from Barkagaon without giving them due compensation or rehabilitation, according to police. PTI MNL SJK SA

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