NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has pulled up a Jharkhand trial court for using WhatsApp call to pronounce the order of charge to former minister of Jharkhand and his MLA wife, who are accused in a 2016 case where violent clashes between villagers and police had left four persons dead.
The court’s observation came on a conduct of a lower court judge in Hazaribagh who put the accused on trial by pronouncing the order framing charges against them through a ‘WhatsApp’ call. Former Jharkhand minister Yogendra Sao and his wife Nirmala Devi were granted bail last year by the SC which had imposed a condition that they shall stay in Bhopal and not enter Jharkhand except for attending court proceedings. Both the accused have now told SC that the trial judge had on April 19 this year framed charges against them through a ‘WhatsApp’ call despite them raising objections.
A Bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L N Rao took serious note of the submissions and said, “What is happening in Jharkhand. This process cannot be allowed, and we cannot allow administration of justice to be brought into disrepute. We are seeing a trial being conducted through WhatsApp. This cannot be done. What kind of a trial is this? Is this a kind of joke?” the Bench asked the lawyer appearing for Jharkhand. The Bench issued a notice on the plea by both the accused, who have sought transfer of their cases from Hazaribagh to New Delhi, and asked the state to respond to it within two weeks.
According to police, Devi had led an agitation against NTPC authorities for their alleged attempt to forcefully evacuate villagers from Barkagaon without giving them due compensation or rehabilitation. Sao had become a minister in the Hemant Soren government in August 2013.