Must take ‘human approach’, says HC as dying MCOCA accused seeks bail

The accused, allegedly a member of the Ravi Pujari gang, was arrested in connection with an alleged attempt to murder a jeweller in Oshiwara in September 2010, and has been in prison ever since

Bombay High Court on Monday observed that a "human approach" needs to be taken towards an accused who is HIV positive and suffering from cancer, and has sought bail.

The accused, allegedly a member of the Ravi Pujari gang, was arrested in connection with an alleged attempt to murder a jeweller in Oshiwara in September 2010, and has been in prison ever since. The Mumbai Police Crime Branch had booked him and two of his accomplices under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for allegedly trying to kill the jeweller using a firearm.

According to a medical report given by doctors from J J Hospital on December 9, 2011, the 28-year-old HIV positive man who suffered from abdomen cancer, had only two years to live.

Relying on the medical report, his petition, filed through the jail, urged the court to release him on bail as his condition is critical. "The prosecution has also said that now he is in a condition only to digest milk," said lawyer Rupali Shinde, appointed to represent the accused through the Maharashtra State Legal Aid Authority.

Justice A M Thipsay said that even animals in cages are looked after by their keepers, and a humane approach needed to be taken towards the ailing accused. Adjourning the case until December 19, the court has asked the Crime Branch to file an affidavit stating whether it wants to oppose the accused's bail application.

Shinde said that although the trial has begun, there are 109 witnesses who have to be examined by the court. "This may take a long time and his condition may get worse," Shinde said. The possibility of the accused living to see the end of the trial, Shinde said, is highly unlikely. "It would be in the interest of natural justice that an ailing man is allowed to spend his last days with his family," she added.

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