Pradyuman Murder: SC refuses to interfere with Pinto Family’s interim bail

Supreme Court: The bench of RK Agarwal and AM Sapre, JJ refused to interfere with the order of the Punjab & Haryana High Court that had granted interim bail to the Pinto Family in relation to the murder of Pradyuman Thakur, a 7-year-old boy, studying in the Ryan International School.

The Court noticed that as the investigation in the murder case was still under progress and the CBI was yet to come to a conclusion regarding the involvement of Ryan Pinto, Dr. Augustine Francis Pinto and Grace Pinto, who are the top management executive of the Ryan International School, there is no ground to interfere with the order of the High Court.

After Pradyuman Thakur’s murder on 08.09.2017, a Resolution was passed on 09.09.2017 by the District Bar Association, Gurugram condemning the brutal and dastardly act of the accused unanimously resolving that no Member of the Bar would appear/represent the accused before the Court or any other Forum. A similar Resolution was passed by the District Bar Association, Sohna. The resolution was, however, withdrawn later.

Pradyuman Thakur’s father has appealed against the order of the High Court on the ground that the Pinto Family ought to have approached the Sessions Court, Gurugram, instead of directly approaching the High Court when on 15.09.2017, the Resolution passed by the District Bar Associations Gurugram and Sohna dated 09.09.2017 to the effect that no lawyer will represent the accused in the instant matter, stood withdrawn.

Refusing to agree with the said plea, the Court said that the Pinto Family cannot be held guilty of any suppression, concealment or fraud in this matter for the simple reason that the petitions were prepared on 15.09.2017 and accepted by the Registry of the Punjab & Haryana High Court on 17.09.2017. The fact relating to the withdrawal of the Resolution passed by the District Bar Associations, Gurugram and Sohna cannot be said to be in their knowledge.

The Court also said:

“we cannot lose sight of the fact that this incident had received wide coverage in the media, both electronic and print. In fact, it can be said that there was a trial by media, therefore, when the private respondents have directly approached the High Court for grant of anticipatory/interim bail under Section 438 of the Code, that too when the High Court has concurrent jurisdiction, we cannot find any fault with the action of the private respondents.”

[Barun Chandra Thakur v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1450, decided on 11.12.2017]

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    When CrPC, for the purpose of grant of anticipatory bail, has conferred concurrent jurisdiction u/s 438 on both High Court and Sessions Court, the choice as to which forum is to be approached lies with the applicant. However, judicial discipline and propriety demand that in the event of rejection of such application by the High Court the applicant is prevented from approaching the Sessions Court immediately afterwards on the same grounds. In the present case had the application been rejected, the applicant would have had no recourse left. Hence approaching the High court first is a move fraught with some risk. Here though, the story seems to have a happy ending.

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