SUVOJIT BAGCHI, Jagdalpur, Nov 12, 2013
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted interim bail to Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher of Dantewada and her relative journalist, Lingaram Kodopi. In a couple days Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi are expected to be released from jail. Meanwhile Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi will be transferred to Delhi.
Granting the interim bail Justice S S Nirjar said since the Chhattisgarh police has not able to furnish proper reply on time, an interim bail has been granted. The next hearing of the case is on December 3.
The bail application was filed couple of months ago by Ms Sori’s lawyer Colin Gonsalves. Lawyer Prashant Bhusan filed the application on behalf of Lingaram Kodopi. Ms Sori and Mr Kodipi.
While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi either got bail or acquittal in most of the cases, both were denied bail by the Chattisgarh courts. Rejecting the bail petition in Chattisgarh High Court, a couple of months back, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra said that “on basis of the seriousness of the evidence” the petition had been rejected. Finally, the bail application was filed in the Supreme Court earlier this month.
Ms. Sori has been acquitted in six of the eight cases in the last one and half years, while Mr. Kodopi has been acquitted in the only other case of planning an attack on local Congress leader Avdesh Gautam.
In the present case, regarding Essar Steel, where both Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi have been accused of arranging “protection money” on behalf of the company to Maoists, was the only case in which the accused have not yet been granted bail. The main accused, D.V.C.S Verma, general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, an Essar contractor, were arrested for allegedly disbursing the money.
Both Mr. Verma and Mr. Lala got bail within few months of their arrest. But Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi have had to wait nearly two and half years.