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A jam-packed Court Hall 21 of the Karnataka High Court was witness to arguments made in the Mohammed Haris Nalapad bail hearing matter, a case that has grabbed the attention of the local media, and it would seem, lawyers alike.
Appearing for the Congress MLA’s son, Senior Advocate CV Nagesh argued for more than two hours today. He submitted before the single Bench of Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar,
“The whole incident is nothing more than a drunken brawl blown out of proportion.”
He also stated that things spiralled out of control in the spur of the moment, and that there was no pre-meditation or motive for Nalapad and the other accused to have committed the alleged offences.
Nagesh contended that the accused did not bring weapons into the venue of the incident, and that surrounding objects like glasses and jugs were used in the melee between Nalapad’s group and the victim Vidvat’s friends. Further, he stated that these objects could not be described as “dangerous weapons”, as was mentioned in the statement of objections of the prosecution.
The Senior Counsel also addressed the controversial manner by which the discharge summary of Vidvat came to be in the possession of his client’s father, MLA NA Haris. On March 6, Haris had published a Facebook post revealing the discharge summary prepared by Mallya Hospital.
During a previous hearing in the case, Special Public Prosecutor MS Shyamsundar alleged that the same was obtained illegally. The Central Crime Branch investigating the assault case subsequently issued notices to the hospital and one Dr. Anand.
Today in Court, Nagesh insisted that the discharge summary was not a confidential record, and that the same could be obtained by filing an RTI or an application under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. He was also of the opinion that it was not important as to how Haris obtained the same.
The discharge summary revealed, among other things, that Vidvat had been discharged from the hospital on March 7. This information assumes significance given the fact that Vidvat is yet to give his statement to the investigation authorities, a fact that formed the basis of one of the grounds on which the sessions court refused to grant bail to Nalapad.
Staying on the topic of the discharge summary and other medical records, Nagesh argued that none of the hospital records revealed that the victim suffered from life-threatening injuries. In effect, he argued, the incident was painted to be graver than what it actually was. He also accused the prosecution of not revealing the information regarding Vidvat’s recovery, and of stalling the investigation under the guise of Vidvat’s inability to give his statement.
Further, Nagesh produced a CD in Court, which he claimed, contained a video of Vidvat addressing the media on February 18, one day after the incident occurred.
“If he is able to speak to the media in a press conference one day after the incident, how has he not been able to give his statement to the authorities even after so long?”, questioned Nagesh.
He also alluded to a political angle to the case, stating that a former Deputy Chief Minister of the state, belonging to the opposition party, had visited Vidvat in hospital, claiming to be a friend of his.
At the end of today’s hearing, SPP Shyamsundar, with the Court’s permission, made a statement that the defence was yet to show how they obtained the confidential medical records of the victim.
The hearing will resume on Wednesday.
Nalapad has been charged under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, among other provisions, for an alleged assault on Vidvat on February 17 at Bangalore’s Farzi Café. It was alleged by the prosecution that Nalapad and his associates attempted to murder Vidvat using lethal objects. The prosecution has been opposing bail for the Congress MLA’s son, owing to the potential political influence he could exert if set free.
On March 2, Mohammed Haris Nalapad was denied bail by Additional City Civil & Sessions Judge Parameshwara Prasanna B. In its order, the court noted that “chances of petitioner causing threat to the prosecution witnesses and chance of his abscondance and chance of he committing similar offences cannot be ruled out”. Nalapad then chose to challenge this order in the Karnataka High Court.
Haris Nalpad’s lawyer Usman P spoke to Bar & Bench and termed the entire incident as a brawl. He said this is not a case for invoking Section 307 or Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code.