Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ. while allowing an appeal, set aside the impugned order of the Gujarat High Court which clearly violated the settled principles of criminal law jurisprudence and statutory prescriptions.

The brief facts of the case were that, an FIR was lodged against Respondent 2 under Sections 376(2)(f) and 376(2)(i) IPC and Sections 4, 5(c)(f)(m), 6, 8, 9(c)(f)(m) and 10 of  the POCSO Act, by the appellant who was the grandmother of the victim. In the present case, the victim was a minor aged 7 years. Respondent 2 was apprehended and charge sheet was filed for the same following which the bail application filed by Respondent 2 was granted by the High Court.

The main issue as pointed out to the Court was that the High Court’s order was in clear violation of the settled principles of criminal law jurisprudence and statutory prescriptions.

The reasons pointed out for the above was that the High Court had directed accused as well as the appellant along with the parents of the victim to undergo scientific tests viz., lie detector, brain mapping, and Narco Analysis. Further, the learned Judge of the High Court had in its order revealed the identity of the “victim”.

The Supreme Court on noting the facts and circumstances of the present case along with highlighting the importance of Section 439 CrPC, 1973 as the guiding principle of adjudicating a bail application, stated that, the High Court in ordering the tests as mentioned above was in contraventions to the principles of criminal law jurisprudence but also violates statutory requirements. The Court highlighted the fact that the matter was converted into a mini-trial by the High Court due to mentioning of the tests.

Further, relying on the decision of State of Punjab v. Ramdev Singh, (2004) 1 SCC 421 in regard to Section 228-A IPC, the Apex Court talked about the ‘identity of the victim’. Sections 33(7) and 23 of the POCSO Act were also mentioned pertaining to the protection of the identity of the victim. Court disapproved the manner in which the High Court adjudicated the bail application and accordingly quashed the High Court order.[Sangitaben Shaileshbhai Datanta v. State of Gujarat,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 2300, dated 29-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Hyderabad High Court: The Single Judge Bench of the High Court refused to grant bail to the primary accused in the shocking murder case of the Mayor of Chittoor, Smt. Katari Anuradha and her husband Katari Mohan.

Out of the 23 accused in the case, the primary accused is the nephew of the deceased couple. This increased the air of gravity associated with the case. Both the accused and the deceased couple held political clout in the region. The accused was tired of holding a secondary position to the deceased. That along with many other rifts caused the accused to commit the murders. The group entered the Mayor’s Chambers in burqas and opened fire on the Mayor. Eyewitnesses intervened and one of them was severely injured. The other deceased fled the scene but was chased down and shot. The injured were taken to the hospital where the other deceased succumbed to his injuries.

The petitioners have staunchly denied the offence and their previous bail application too was rejected. The counsel for the petitioners claimed that the petitioner has been implicated in the crime by his political rivals. There was a delay in filing the FIR which indicated that the petitioner was roped in at a later stage. He negated the statement of the eyewitnesses stating that it made no sense for the petitioner to mask his identity and reveal it by removing his burqa immediately before firing the fatal shot. He also claimed that the petitioner was a law abiding citizen who had surrendered himself and was in custody for the last nineteen months without being proven guilty.

The Public Prosecutor opposed all these contentions. He stated that the gravity and the brutality of the murder were such that the accused deserved no leniency. It was a daylight murder committed before multiple eye-witnesses which showed the brazenness of the accused. The fact that the accused has the nephew of the deceased only added to the gravity of the crime. The Prosecutor further stated that the accused was already involved in multiple criminal cases and committed this crime while on bail. This shows that there is a chance of him committing some other offences while on bail. There was a scope of witness tampering and misuse of political clout if bail was granted.

The Bench of Durga Prasad Rao, J. accepted the contentions of the Public Prosecutor, relying on the parameters laid down in Virupakshappa Gouda v. State of Karnataka, (2017) 5 SCC 406) : (a) severity or gravity of offence; (b) prima facie accusation against the offender; (c) severity of punishment in the event of conviction; (d) chances of accused absconding if granted bail; (e) the propensity of accused repeating the crimes; and (f) reasonable apprehension of the accused influencing the witness and thwart the course of justice.

Accepting these parameters, bail was denied to the petitioner-accused. [Sriram Chandra Sekhar v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2017 SCC OnLine Hyd 214, decided on 03.07.2017]