Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Granting bail to Manoranjana Sinh, the accused in the infamous “Chit-fund scam” involving the Saradha Group of Companies, the Court said that the confinement of the appellant in judicial custody is not an indispensable necessity for the unhindered investigation in the case. The said order of the Court came in the light of the settled law that detention in custody of under-trial prisoners for an indefinite period amounts to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, as highlighted in Sanjay Chandra vs. Central Bureau of Investigation, (2012) 1 SCC 40.

The bench of Arun Mishra and Amitava Ghosh, JJ, however, laid down the following conditions:

  • The appellant would surrender her passport to the Trial Court and would not leave the territorial limits of the city Kolkata without the written permission of the Trial Court and without informing the investigating agency.
  • She would report before the Trial Court and the investigating officer once a month, till the investigation in the case is completed in full.
  • She would not in any way hinder or try to influence the investigation in any manner whatsoever and would not endeavor to either tamper with any evidence or induce/influence/dissuade/intimidate any witness or deal with any record relevant to the case.
  • She would cooperate with the investigation and would always be available to be interrogated by the Investigating Agency.

Keeping it open for the Trail Court to lay down any other condition if and as and when necessary, the Court said that the breach or non-compliance of any of the above conditions would entail immediate cancellation of the bail granted, either suo motu or on any complaint made by any quarter whatsoever and would visit the appellant with stringent adverse consequences as contemplated in law. [Manoranjana Sinh v. CBI, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 96, decided on 06.02.2017]


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While hearing bail petition of an accused who was demanding bail on ground of lack of evidence, the Single-Judge Bench of L. Narayana Swamy, J. denied the bail to the accused. The said person was being tried for his act of facilitating a bomb blast by transporting explosives and providing his home for a conspiracy meeting for the blast. The Court held that the accused person should not be given bail only on basis of lack of evidence, as filing of charge-sheet against the person who is being prosecuted for such serious charges as in under Sections 121-A, 123, 307 of IPC is enough to show that the accused is involved in a serious offence related to causing disharmony within the public.

It was contended by the counsel for the petitioner that he was being framed only because he was named by one of the accused of the bomb blast and no other evidence has been found against him. The public prosecutor argued that explosive material was found on instance of this accused person and also the petitioner has a history of being a habitual offender.

The Court observed that charges against the petitioner are grave in nature, which is accentuated by filing of the charge-sheet against the petitioner, and the fact that the group with which the accused persons in the present case are associated, is a banned group by the Central authorities and the United Nations Organisation for their sole aim to disrupt public peace. Therefore the charges are such, which if proven will result in life imprisonment or death penalty. Considering the anti-national character of the alleged offences against the petitioner, the Court refused to grant bail to the petitioner.  [Zulfikar Ali v. State of Karnataka, 2017 SCC OnLine Kar 2, decided on 5/01/2017]


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Delivering its judgement regarding the grant of bail to an accussed alleged of committing the crime of trafficking, who acted in accordance which Section 34  IPC  leading to the commission of grave offences like penetrative sexual assault and harassment under the POCSO Act, the Bench of  Sadhana S. Jadhav, J. held that in these circumstances the accused does not deserve to be released on bail.

The case involved an applicant who was alleged to be an agent for trafficking a minor girl for certain amount under the garb of marriage to another man with whom the minor also gave birth to two children. She was sexually abused and wasn’t given the status of a wife. She was later abandoned by the man. The applicant in this case sought to be granted bail.

On analysing the facts and circumstances of the case, keeping in view the commission of trafficking and other non-bailable and cognizable offences under the POCSO Act for which the punishment may extend to imprisonment for life, this Court rejected the application and held that in such circumstances, bail cannot be granted. [Lonkaran Chothmalji Parmar v. State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 9851, 28.11.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition preferred under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by the hapless and helpless widow of Rajdev Ranjan, a senior reporter of a news daily, i.e., ‘Dainik Hindustan’, who was brutally murdered on 13.05.2016 by a group of persons, the Court, after considering the status report filed by the CBI, directed the CBI to complete the investigation within 3 months.

The Court also asked the Sessions Judge, Siwan (Town), Bihar, to submit a report along with the order sheet on the next date of hearing i.e. 28.11.2016, with regard to the status of Mohammad Kaif and Mohammad Javed as regards they are proclaimed offenders or whether there was issue of non-bailable warrants of arrest from the court or any other aspect relating to the case concerned.

The Court, by order dated 23.09.2016, had directed that police protection be given to the petition as people holding party position and position in the political executive were alleged to be involved in the case as Mohammad Kaif, one of the accused, was spotted with Shahabuddin, Vice President, Rashtriya Janta Dal and Tej Pratap Yadav, Health Minister, Government of Bihar.

The bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ added that the accused persons who have been charge sheeted shall not claim any benefit for enlargement on bail under proviso to Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal procedure, as the charge sheet has already been filed by the State Police and further investigation is in progress by the CBI. [Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1143, decided on 17.10.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy, JJ directed the State of Bihar to take all consequential steps, inter alia, for taking Md. Shahabuddin, the respondent-accused, to custody forthwith. The Court said that balancing the considerations of individual liberty and societal interest as well as the prescriptions and the perception of law regarding bail, it appears that the Patna High Court erred in granting bail to the respondent-accused without taking into consideration the overall facts otherwise having a bearing on the exercise of its discretion on the issue.

Prashant Bhushan, counsel appearing for the complainant had contended that the High Court had committed a gross error in granting bail to the respondent-accused and did not consider the contents of the F.I.R. as well as the fact that he is a habitual offender, and that he has in the meantime been awarded two sentences of life imprisonment and also named in several criminal cases. He further urged that the respondent-accused is a category-A history sheeter in view of his persistent criminal antecedents and as in the case in hand, he has been charged with the offence of facilitating murder of a witness in a case in which he was being tried, he ought not to have been granted bail in any view of the matter.

However, Shekhar Napahde, the counsel appearing for the respondent-accused submitted that the High Court granted bail on the ground that the trial could not be completed within a period of nine months, as directed by the High Court vide order dated 03.02.2016 while rejecting his earlier prayer for bail in the same case.

Considering the arguments, the Court held that although it has to be accepted that the respondent-accused has already been granted bail by the concerned courts in other cases, a duty is cast upon the Court in addressing such a prayer in a case on its own merit, and while applying its discretion, it must be applied in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course. The Court further said that tough the period of custody is a relevant factor, the same has to be weighed simultaneously with the totality of the circumstances and the criminal antecedents in the scale of collective cry and desire and that societal concern has to be kept in view in juxtaposition to individual liberty. [Chandrakeshwar Prasad v. State of Bihar, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1054, decided on 30.09.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Reviving a bail order cancelled by the Principal Sessions Judge, Madurai, the bench of P. Devadass J. held that, in matters of cancellation of a bail order due to default in complying with the bail conditions, opportunity must be given to the accused persons to present their case. It was held that the cancellation of a bail order cannot be done mechanically as it involves withdrawal of the liberty that has already given to the accused; hence observance of principles of natural justice is a must.

In the present case the issue was that the petitioners (husband and wife) had been granted anticipatory bail under Section 438 of CrPC and certain conditions were imposed which included regular appearance before the police at a scheduled time. Due to compliance of the same, the bail conditions with respect to the wife were relaxed. However, the police subsequently filed a petition for cancellation of the bail order on the grounds that the petitioners have not obeyed the bail condition as per the order. The Principal Sessions Judge, Madurai had accepted their contention and cancelled the bail order.

While deciding the matter, it was observed that the Court ought to have provided legal assistance in the form of an Amicus Curiae or a counsel to the accused persons so that the fact that their bail conditions had been relaxed could have been brought in to the notice of the Court. It was also observed by the Court that the grounds for the cancellation of a bail are different from the grounds that are requisites for granting a bail, therefore, more consideration is required while cancelling a bail order. It maintained that an accused cannot be at fault merely because he was not present before the police station or the Court as per the bail condition, as number of contingencies could have prevented him from fulfilling the bail conditions. Hence an opportunity should have been given to the accused. Observing that the Sessions Judge had acted mechanically while cancelling the bail order, the Court chided the Judge for acting like a ‘motionless machine’ and observed that the Sessions Judge should have acted more like a human being than as an ‘inanimate computer’, because unlike a computer, a Judge has a sense of justice to understand that cancellation of a bail order is a serious issue. [Uma Maheshwari v. The State, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 6971, decided on 13.06.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: Hearing upon the applications filed by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti’s (PAAS) firebrand leader and convener Hardik Patel, who was charged with sedition, the bench of A.J. Desai, J., granted him bail along with certain conditions wherein Patel will have to refrain from taking undue advantage of the liberty provided to him. The Court further directed Patel to issue a declaration that he is ready to remain outside the territorial limits of the State of Gujarat for a period of six months from the date of his release.

The present case is a result of the statewide unrest that prevailed in the State of Gujarat last year where there was an agitation led by the leaders of PAAS demanding reservations in government jobs and educational institutions for the Patidar community under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. As per the contentions of Zubin Bharda representing Hardik Patel, the prosecution has vehemently tried to portray that Patel is the one who is solely responsible for the violence that spread in the aftermath of the rallies that were held in the support of the cause championed by PAAS. It was further argued that grave charges were leveled against the applicant under Section 121 of IPC, as if his demand for reservation was akin to waging war against the State. The contentions were opposed by the Public Prosecutor, Mitesh Amin, who stated that the applicant had used the wide array of social networking sites and internet applications such as ‘watsapp’ to mobilize the members of Patidar community and thereby had conspired to overawe the State Government.

Perusing the contentions of the parties and referring to landmark decisions on sedition, the Court observed that the applicant and his association namely PAAS had called on the members of Patidar community to the various rallies that furthered their cause of attaining reservation under the OBC category. The Court also studied the speeches and the interviews given by the applicant and observed that along with the applicant, several other members of the Patidar community were interested in getting reservation. Therefore the applicant alone cannot be kept behind the bars when other leaders of the agitation have been already granted bail. Considering the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in respect to Section 439 of the CrPC, the Court decided to grant bail to the applicant but with certain mandatory conditions. [Hardik Bharatbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 824, decided on 08.07.2016]

Case BriefsDistrict Court

Patiala House District Court, New Delhi: While hearing the bail applications of Anirban Bhattacharya and Umair Khalid under Section 439 CrPC, the Court granted interim bail to both the applicants/accused for a period of 6 months subject to forming a personal bond.  In the present case, both the applicants/accused were charged with Section 124 A of Penal Code, 1860 for raising anti-national slogans at the JNU Campus. Investigation revealed that Anirban Bhattacharya and Umair Khalid had applied to hold the event and were the main organizers of the event which ended in raising the anti-national and anti-constitutional slogans. Sh. Trideep Pais, counsel on the behalf of the applicant/accused Anirban Bhattacharya submitted that sloganeering did not lead to any further incident and the allegations against the accused persons fell short of ingredients of Section 124 A Penal Code, 1860. Sh. Jawahar Raja, counsel for the applicant/accused Umar Khalid made similar submissions.

The Court after perusal of the arguments advanced by counsels, relying on Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chatterjee, (2010) 14 SCC 496 granted bail to the accused persons keeping in view that no previous criminal record of any nature found and also the fact that nothing has been brought on record which could indicate that they are likely to abscond from the jurisdiction of Court. Therefore, the Court granted interim bail to both the applicants/accused for a period of 6 months subject to forming a personal bond in sum of Rs. 25,000 with one surety of the like amount. The Court also directed the accused persons for not leaving Delhi without the permission of the Court during the bail period. [State v. Anirban Bhattacharya, Bail Application No. 1153/16 & 1154/16, decided on 18.03.2016.]

 Read the order Here

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court – In the light of  increasing incidents of human trafficking and misuse of the provisions of bail by the accused in such cases, the division bench of Roshan Dalvi and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, J.J, issued stringent guidelines for the grant of bail in cases of trafficking under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA). The Court reiterated the functions of police officers, prosecutors and judicial officers in the conduct of such cases and devised a bail check-list proforma, to be used and kept in the records and proceedings of the cases, by the Magistrates and Judges, while deciding the application for bail. Furthermore, the Commissioner of Police, Pune was directed to set up a team under a Special Police Officer to trace the accused in such cases.

The PIL was filed in the Court by Roshani Joseph, on behalf of Freedom Firm against the Commissioner of Police, Pune and the State, contending that the accused in cases of human trafficking exploit the provisions of bail to stall proceedings under the ITPA, and abscond as soon as there is satisfactory evidence to merit their conviction. Sharmila S. Kaushik, counsel on the behalf of the State, argued that the Police has no control over the accused, as once released on bail they flee to Nepal or Bangladesh.  Both counsels were in agreement with the view that it is necessary to have guidelines, to be followed, while releasing the accused on bail.

The Court held that, not being trafficked is a fundamental right of every Indian citizen, under Article 23 (1) of the Constitution and the prosecution has failed to use the legitimate weapon of bail cancellation, when the accused absconds. Addressing the contention of the Police, the Court stated that under Article 1 of the Treaty of Extradition between Government of India and Nepal, the countries have agreed to deliver accused criminals in each others territory, on the basis of strict reciprocity. Aggrieved by the sordid state of criminal justice machinery, the Court further laid down rigorous conditions for acceptance of sureties if the accused is released on bail. [Freedom Firm v. Commissioner of Police., 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 4265 decided on 30-10- 2015]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Deciding the matter where the legal pregnability of the Bail order passed by the High Court was called in question, the bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant, JJ held that the grant of bail though involves exercise of discretionary power of the Court, such exercise of discretion has to be made in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course.

In the present case, where the respondent was a history sheeter and had been involved in heinous crimes, the Court said that the heinous nature of crimes warrants more caution as there is a greater chance of rejection of bail. It was held that the High Court erred in applying doctrine of parity to the case at hand and thereby, ignoring the criminal antecedents of the respondent and further said that the law expects the judiciary to be alert while admitting these kind of accused persons to be at large and, therefore, the emphasis is on exercise of discretion judiciously and not in a whimsical manner.

Taking note of the concept of liberty and it’s curtailment by law, the Court said that an individual can enjoy his liberty which is definitely of paramount value but he cannot be a law unto himself nor can he be a terror to the society. Stating that a crime though committed against an individual, in all cases it does not retain an individual character, the Court said that the victim may be an individual, but in the ultimate eventuate, it is the society which is the victim. Hence, considering that the crimes committed by the respondent are not minor offences so that he is not to be retained in custody, but the crimes are of heinous nature and such crimes, by no stretch of imagination, can be regarded as jejune, the Court set aside the High Court’s order. Neeru Yadav v. State of U.P., 2015 SCC OnLine SC 862, decided on 29.09.2015

High Courts

Delhi High Court: In a recent case where the former Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare was convicted for conspiring and fraudulently procuring admissions of some ineligible candidates in MBBS Course, the Court has dismissed his appeal for suspension of sentence and release on bail. It was directed that the appellant will be at liberty to move appropriate application on medical grounds, but keeping in view the grave and serious allegation against him u/Sections 120(B) r/w Sec. 420/468 IPC and Sections 13(2) r/w Sec. 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, the sentence will not be suspended till the disposal of appeal.

Briefly stated the facts of the case are that the appellant while working as Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, was interested in procuring admissions for three ineligible candidates, one of the students being his nephew. The allegation was that the appellant had abused his official position as Minister and Head of Department, Government of India, by hatching a conspiracy alongwith co-accused for procuring admissions of certain ineligible candidates in MBBS course. While resorting to corrupt and dishonest means, he was able to obtain valuable things in the form of nomination letter for the aforesaid admissions, while the deserving students of State of Tripura were fraudulently denied their entitled seats in the Medical/Dental college. The appellant was convicted u/Sections 120(B) rw Sec. 420/468 IPC and Sections 13(2) rw Sec. 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act and he had filed the present appeals seeking suspension of sentence and release on bail during pendency of the same. The prosecution contended that as far as the medical ground is concerned there is no illness and the appellant is being taken care of by the Superintendent Jail.

Dismissing the application and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court held that the allegations were very serious in nature due to the reason that because of the alleged conspiracy, genuine candidates were deprived of medical seats. Moreover, as per the medical report, all prescribed medications and regular treatment were being given to the appellant, and he was being examined from time to time by a Medical Board, constituted at AIIMS. It was further directed that it would be open for the Superintendent Jail to provide the medical facilities as required.Rasheed Masood v. CBI, 2014 SCC OnLine Del 6406, decided on 14-11-2014

High Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In a significant development in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case, the key accused Swami Aseemanand was granted bail by the Court observing that the trials in this case are still going on and the witnesses are still being examined. The instant appeal arose as the NIA Special Court on 2011 refused to grant bail to the appellant- accused and issue direction to National Investigation Agency (NIA) under Section 91 CrPC. The appellant was represented by S.P Jain and NIA was represented by Special Prosecutor S.S. Sandhu 

The Division Bench of the Court comprising S.S. Saron and Lisa Gill, JJ.,  referring to the Supreme Court decision in State of Orissa v. Debendra Nath Padhi, (2005)1 SCC 568 observed that the foremost requirement under Section 91 CrPC is that the document should be necessary and desirable for the purposes of investigation which is to be seen at the stage when the prayer for the production of the document is made, also if any document is necessary or desirable for the defence of the accused, the question of invoking Section 91 at the initial stage of framing of a charge would not arise since defence of the accused is not relevant at that stage. The Court further observed that under Section 91, the accused’s entitlement to seek order does not come till the stage of defence.  Thus the Court held that the stage of the case at which the document sought to be summoned is to be seen and since in the instant case the trials are still going on therefore the case has not reached at the stage of defence. N.K. Sarkar alias Swami Asimanand v. National Inverstigation Agency, CRA-D No.196-DB of 2012(O&M), decided on 28.08.2014

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Tehelka founder, Tarun Tejpal who was out on interim bail to attend his mother’s funeral was granted regular bail by a bench comprising of H.L. Dattu and S. A. Bobde, JJ. . Tejpal, who was arrested in November last year for molesting and sexually assaulting his female colleague, has been asked to be present before the Court as and when required and not to threaten, dissuade or induce any witness in connection with case. The Court, while directing Tejpal to surrender his passport, said that the trial before the trial court should be expedited and concluded in eight months and it also said that the respondents were at liberty to approach the Court in case of the petitioner violating the rules of the order. Tarun Tejpal v. State of Goa, S.L.A. (Crl.) No(s).3149-3150, decided on July 1st, 2014