Guidelines issued to prevent Forum Shopping in Bail cases

Kerala High Court: In order to clarify doubts of the Registry of Kerala High Court in carrying out the dictum laid down by the Supreme Court in Shahzad Hasan Khan v. Ishtiaq Hasan Khan, (1987) 2 SCC 684, which requires that if successive bail applications are filed by the same accused, in the same crime, the matter must be placed before the same Judge who disposed of the earlier application, if he is available for orders, in order to prevent abuse of the process of court, the Full Bench comprising of Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, Actg. C.J., Thottathil B.Radhakrihnan, K.T. Sankaran, JJ., issued the  following guidelines:

  • The subsequent bail application filed by the same accused in the same crime during Onam and Christmas holidays may wait till the end of the said holidays, when the Judge who has passed orders on the earlier application is not available for orders or if he is not designated as a Vacation Judge.
  • In case if the subsequent bail application is filed by the same accused during summer vacation and if the Judge who passed earlier order is not available for orders or if he is not a designated Vacation Judge, the memo filed under Section 8 of the High Court Act on behalf of the accused-applicant be listed before the Judge nominated to hear the bail applications during the summer vacation. However, the fact that an earlier bail application in the same crime is dismissed is to be brought to the notice of that Vacation Judge.
  • The application filed by the co-accused may be considered and ordered by any other Judge.
  • If the Judge who passed order on the earlier bail application filed by the same accused in the same crime is sitting in the Division Bench, the subsequent application for bail may be brought to the notice of the Chief Justice by the Registry so as to enable the Chief Justice to make necessary arrangement to have a special sitting of the said Judge.
  • The counsel for the accused who is filing the subsequent application for bail in the same crime shall mention in the application seeking bail about the disposal of earlier bail application filed by this very accused.
  • It is the duty of the Public Prosecutor concerned to bring to the notice of the court, as far as possible, about the earlier bail application filed by the same accused as well as about any application filed by the co-accused in the same crime and the result thereof.

[Firos Ali v. State of Kerala, SCC OnLine Ker 18756, decided on September 1, 2016]

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