New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to a RTI activist from Odisha, who had complained of wrongdoing against a senior sitting judge and two judges of the Orissa High Court.
Activist Jayanta Kumar Das was granted bail in connection with an FIR lodged for posting Facebook comments that allegedly outraged religious sentiments.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur noted that Das had been in custody in this case since August 8, 2017. Further, Odisha government did not send a lawyer to the court for opposing the bail plea.
"In our opinion, since there is no opposition to this petition by the State of Odisha, it would be appropriate if bail is granted to the petitioner subject to such reasonable conditions as may be imposed by the trial court," ordered the bench.
It further clarified that Das will participate in the probe and will not create any kind of obstruction.
Senior lawyer Jayant Bhushan appeared for Das to argue for his bail.
Das will come out on bail provided he obtains bail in another case where he has been sentenced to six years in jail by a Puri court for creating a fake mail ID as well as profiles in social media and also posting obscene and derogative remarks on a pornographic website.
In 2016, the then CJI, T S Thakur, had ordered an inquiry under the In-house procedure on a complaint by Das.
The three-member panel scrutinised various allegations against Orissa HC sitting judges, Justices Indrajit Mahanty and S K Sahoo.
Allegations against Justice Mahanty pertained to running a hotel business in violation of code of ethics and passing an order apparently in a conflict of interest.
Justice Sahoo, who was appointed as a judge of the High Court in July 2014, was alleged to have misused public funds for the renovation of his official residence, beyond his entitlement, when he was as an Additional Judge.
The in-house panel, headed by Justice S J Vazifdar, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, however, was forced to halt its proceedings in June 2017 after the name of a senior Supreme Court judge cropped up in the course of the probe.
The committee decided to seek guidance in writing from the then CJI, Justice J S Khehar ,but the then CJI did not revert till his retirement.
The proceedings however resumed after Justice Dipak Misra took over as the CJI.
The probe panel had its final hearing at Haryana Bhawan in Delhi in the first week of February when each of the two accused judges presented their side to the probe panel. The final report has hence been submitted to the CJI.
On February 1, the panel heard complainant Das from Puri prison via video conferencing.
Earlier, Das had appeared in person before the panel on May 1, 2017 when the name of the sitting Supreme Court judge came up in the probe.
In his letter to CJI Thakur, Das had complained that the SC judge had misrepresented facts in attempting to get hold of public land meant to be distributed to the landless poor for agricultural purposes.