Ex-minister Yogendra Sao threatening probe officer: Jharkhand govt tells SC

New Delhi, Jan 21 (PTI) The Jharkhand government told the Supreme Court on Monday that former state minister Yogendra Sao, against whom several cases of rioting and instigating violence have been registered, was threatening an investigating officer and his bail needs to be cancelled.The state government told a bench of justices S A Bobde and Deepak Gupta, that Sao and his MLA wife Nirmala Devi, who is also an accused in similar cases, have violated several bail conditions imposed on them by the top court.Standing Counsel Tapesh Kumar Singh for Jharkhand said Sao recently threatened the investigating officer posted at Barkagaon police station in Hazaribagh district and a case has been registered against him.He said the IO is a crucial witness in the case against him and Sao has violated apex court's bail condition of not contacting any witnesses in the case."They (Sao and Devi) should be put back in jail for violating bail conditions," he said.Singh said they were not staying in Bhopal as directed by the top court and were also not attending trial court proceedings when they are in Jharkhand.He sought permission from the court to place on record the statements of Bhopal SP to buttress his point that the couple has been violating bail conditions.Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, appearing for Sao and Devi, said even when the couple go to a temple it is construed as a violation of bail conditions.He said there are several cases pending against Sao and his wife and it will be appropriate if all the cases are transferred to one place in Delhi.To this, the bench said, "We have to think of witnesses also. How will they come all the way to Delhi to attend trial court proceedings".It said the matter requires detailed consideration and posted it for hearing on February 5.On January 15, the apex court had asked Sao and his wife to explain on how many occasions they did not attend trial court proceedings despite being in the state.The top court had also asked the couple about the circumstances in which they were out of Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal.It had said that the only exception granted to Sao and Devi, while granting bail, was that they would enter Jharkhand to attend trial court proceedings against them.Both Sao and Devi were granted bail on December 15, 2017 by the top court in the case and they were 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.Jharkhand government had said that out of 260 days, Sao had been in Jharkhand for more than 150 days and hardly spent 25 days in Bhopal.It had claimed that Sao travelled out of Bhopal on 24 occasions out of which he had travelled to Delhi a dozen times.On November 22, last year, the apex court had said that it may cancel the bail granted to Sao and his MLA wife for violating conditions imposed by it. Jharkhand government had earlier said that in 11 cases registered against Sao, charges were not framed by the trial judge as he did not appear before the court despite directions from the top court.It had said several criminal cases were pending against the couple. The cases are at various stages, including of framing of charges, where their presence is needed, it had said.The apex court had earlier taken exception to the charge framing order passed by a court in Jharkhand through instant messaging application WhatsApp. It had wondered how this kind of a "joke" was allowed to happen in a court of law in India.A lower judge in Hazaribagh district had put Sao on trial by pronouncing the order framing charges against them through a 'WhatsApp' call.Both the Sao and Devi had challenged the order in apex court saying that the trial judge had on April 19 this year framed charges against them through a 'WhatsApp' call despite they raising objections to it.The apex court took serious note of it and observed that this process cannot be allowed, and administration of justice cannot be allowed to be brought into disrepute.The couple had sought transfer of their cases from Jharkhand to New Delhi.Both Devi and Sao were accused in the case relating to violent clashes between villagers and police in 2016 in which four persons were killed.Sao was a minister in the Hemant Soren government in August 2013.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 MNL ABHABH