The Bombay High Court has rejected an application of anticipatory bail filed by six Indian Army personnel who have been accused of murdering their retired colleague over an alleged monetary dispute.
A case was filed by the victim’s wife as she was doubtful of the claim that her husband had drowned in Alibaug in September 2020. She said her husband was a good swimmer and was also suspicious that the fact that one of the accused owed her husband Rs 1 lakh had something to do with the death.
A single-judge Bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal, on April 21, passed the judgment on the applications made by the six men serving in the Indian Army through advocate Gaurav Parkar.
The deceased, Ganesh Thokal, had joined the Army in 2003 and retired in July 2020. Following retirement, he was living with his wife in Kamargaon in Ahmednagar district. According to the FIR filed by Thokal’s wife, he had lent Rs 1 lakh to one of the accused in the past and was asking for it which had led to a dispute.
In September 2020, Thokal was invited by his friends for a picnic in Murud-Kashid, a popular coastal destination in Raigad district. Despite his wife’s apprehensions, Thokal went to visit the accused in Pune and thereafter left for the picnic on September 5.
In her complaint, the wife said she was in touch with her husband until the next morning but on September 7, his body arrived at their home in an ambulance.
She was told that her husband drowned while swimming, but she grew suspicious on spotting injuries on his right eye and ear. She also expressed apprehensions about the accidental death report lodged by the Murud Police and lodged another FIR against all six of his friends in November 2020.
Commenting on the injuries on Thokal’s body, the Bench said, “These bruises seemed to have appeared after sustaining injury by application of a blunt force. They did not occur due to post-mortem violence. This opinion is very significant. It is more than clear that the said black eye was the result of blunt trauma caused by injury. It was caused before death. This piece of medical evidence is incriminating against the present applicants.”
The court added: “Though the applicants are from the Army, the matter requires thorough investigation and custodial interrogation in this particular case is necessary. Therefore, the applications (by the accused) are rejected.”
In view of the “seriousness of the incident”, the Court vacated the interim protection from arrest earlier granted to the accused and refused their request to continue with the same for a few more days.
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