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Park St case order recall

Naser Khan (left)

A Calcutta High Court division bench on Tuesday refused to rule on the bail plea of Naser Khan, one of the key accused in the Park Street rape case, and decided to release the petition for personal reasons.

The division bench of Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia and Justice Toufique Uddin, after the hearing the bail plea, decided to send the matter to the acting chief justice for disposal because of difference of opinion between the judges over whether the accused should be granted bail.

After a while, the judges recalled their order and released the matter citing “personal reasons”. There was, however, no clarification on what the judges meant by “personal reasons”.

Now that the case has been released, another division bench of the court would hear the petition.

According to high court sources, had the division bench stuck to its first order and sent the matter to the acting chief justice for reassignment, the case would have had to be sent to a third judge for disposal.

“But as the division bench recalled the order, the case would now have to be sent to a another two-judge division bench for rehearing. The chief justice will decide which bench will hear the case,” advocate Udaysankar Chatterjee said.

According to him, difference of opinion between the judges of a division bench is common, but recall of an order is “unprecedented”.

On February 9, a 37-year-old woman was allegedly gangraped in a moving car after she came out of a Park Street night club. Nine days later, three youths — Sumit Bajaj, Ruman Khan and Naser Khan — were arrested in connection with the alleged rape. Since then, the trio have been in custody.

Kadir Khan, the main accused, is absconding.

Chargesheets against the accused were filed on May 11 but the trial is yet to start.

Naser was the first to move a bail petition before Calcutta High Court. During the hearing on the plea, lawyers representing Khan submitted that photographs of all the accused had been made public before their identification by the complainant.

Legal experts feel the other two accused in custody would decide on their move after the court announces its verdict on Naser’s plea. “If Naser is granted bail, they, too, will move similar petitions before the high court,” said advocate Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee.