Landmark Judgments of the Supreme Court pertaining to Regular Bail Part 1


List of Cases                                        

 

1.Sanjay Chandra v. Central Bureau Of Investigation (2G Spectrum Scam Case)

2.Vaman Narain Ghiya v. State Of Rajasthan

3.Sukhwant Singh and Others v.  State Of Punjab

4.State of U.P. Through C.B.I v. Amarmani Tripathi

5.Kalyan Chandra Sarkar v. Rajesh Ranjan @ Pappu Yadav and Another 

6.Ram Govind Upadhyay v. Sudarshan Singh and Others

7.Akhtari Bi (Smt.) v. State Of M.P.

 


Highlights of the decision in the above mentioned cases:

  • Purpose of Bail
  • Seriousness of the charge not the only relevant factor while considering bail application
  • Both the seriousness of the charge and the severity of the punishment should be taken into consideration while granting bail
  • Right to bail is not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community against the accused
  • Article 21 violated when undertrial prisoners are detained in jail custody to an indefinite period
  • Bail- Meaning
  • Balance to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational right of the police. -An accused is not detained in custody with the object of punishing him on the assumption of his guilt.
  • Detailed discussion of the evidence and elaborate documentation of the merits is to be avoided while considering an application for bail
  • Reputation of a person is his valuable asset and is a facet of his right under Article 21- Grant of interim bail pending regular bail application
  • Application for cancellation of bail and appeal against order granting bail- Relevant factors to be considered
  • Factors to be considered while granting bail
  • Scope of interference in the matters of bail – Art 136
  • Person whose application for enlargement on bail is once rejected is not precluded from filing a subsequent application for grant of bail if there is a change in the fact situation
  • Findings of a higher court or a coordinate bench must receive serious consideration at the hands of the court entertaining a bail application at a later stage when the same had been rejected earlier
  • Subsequent bail application – Allowed, if there is a change in the fact situation or in law which requires the earlier view being interfered with or where the earlier finding has become obsolete.
  • Order for bail bereft of any cogent reason cannot be sustained
  • Relevant considerations for granting bail
  • Basic criterion for cancellation of bail -‘interference or even an attempt to interfere with the due course of administration of justice’
  • Duty incumbent on the High Court to explicitly state the reasons as to why the sudden departure in the order of grant as against the rejection
  • Prolonged delay in disposal of the trials and thereafter appeals in criminal cases, for no fault of the accused, confers a right upon him to apply for bail

1. Sanjay Chandra v. Central Bureau Of Investigation (2G Spectrum Scam Case)

Citation         (2012) 1 SCC 40

Coram            G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Dattu, JJ

D.O.D             November 23 , 2011 

Purpose of Bail

Held

  • In bail applications, generally, it has been laid down from the earliest times that the object of bail is to secure the appearance of the accused person at his trial by reasonable amount of bail. The object of bail is neither punitive nor preventative. Deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment, unless it can be required to ensure that an accused person will stand his trial when called upon. The courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty.
  • From the earliest times, it was appreciated that detention in custody pending completion of trial could be a cause of great hardship. From time to time, necessity demands that some un-convicted persons should be held in custody pending trial to secure their attendance at the trial but in such cases, `necessity’ is the operative test.In this country, it would be quite contrary to the concept of personal liberty enshrined in the Constitution that any person should be punished in respect of any matter, upon which, he has not been convicted or that in any circumstances, he should be deprived of his liberty upon only the belief that he will tamper with the witnesses if left at liberty, save in the most extraordinary circumstances.
  • Apart from the question of prevention being the object of refusal of bail, one must not lose sight of the fact that any imprisonment before conviction has a substantial punitive content and it would be improper for any court to refuse bail as a mark of disapproval of former conduct whether the accused has been convicted for it or not to refuse bail to an unconvicted person for the purpose of giving him a taste of imprisonment as a lesson.

Seriousness of the charge not the only relevant factor while considering bail application

Held

  • In the instant case, we have already noticed that the “pointing finger of accusation” against the appellants is “the seriousness of the charge”. The offences alleged are economic offences which have resulted in loss to the State exchequer. Though, they contend that there is a possibility of the appellants tampering with the witnesses, they have not placed any material in support of the allegation. In our view, seriousness of the charge is, no doubt, one of the relevant considerations while considering bail applications but that is not the punishment that could be imposed after trial and conviction, both under the Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Otherwise, if the former is the only test, we would not be balancing the constitutional rights but rather “recalibrating the scales of justice”.

 

Both the seriousness of the charge and the severity of the punishment should be taken into consideration while determining the bail application

Held

  • Coming back to the facts of the present case, both the Courts have refused the request for grant of bail on two grounds:- The primary ground is that offence alleged against the accused persons is very serious involving deep rooted planning in which, huge financial loss is caused to the State exchequer ; the secondary ground is that the possibility of the accused persons tempering with the witnesses. In the present case, the charge is that of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, forgery for the purpose of cheating using as genuine a forged document. The punishment of the offence is punishment for a term which may extend to seven years. It is, no doubt, true that the nature of the charge may be relevant, but at the same time, the punishment to which the party may be liable, if convicted, also bears upon the issue. Therefore, in determining whether to grant bail, both the seriousness of the charge and the severity of the punishment should be taken into consideration.

Right to bail is not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community against the accused

Held

  • The grant or refusal to grant bail lies within the discretion of the Court. The grant or denial is regulated, to a large extent, by the facts and circumstances of each particular case. But at the same time, right to bail is not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community against the accused. The primary purposes of bail in a criminal case are to relieve the accused of imprisonment, to relieve the State of the burden of keeping him, pending the trial, and at the same time, to keep the accused constructively in the custody of the Court, whether before or after conviction, to assure that he will submit to the jurisdiction of the Court and be in attendance thereon whenever his presence is required.

Article 21 violated when undertrial prisoners are detained in jail custody to an indefinite period

Held

  • When the under trial prisoners are detained in jail custody to an indefinite period, Article 21 of the Constitution is violated. Every person, detained or arrested, is entitled to speedy trial, the question is: whether the same is possible in the present case.
  • There are seventeen accused persons. Statement of the witnesses runs to several hundred pages and the documents on which reliance is placed by the prosecution, is voluminous. The trial may take considerable time and it looks to us that the appellants, who are in jail, have to remain in jail longer than the period of detention, had they been convicted. It is not in the interest of justice that accused should be in jail for an indefinite period. No doubt, the offence alleged against the appellants is a serious one in terms of alleged huge loss to the State exchequer, that, by itself, should not deter us from enlarging the appellants on bail when there is no serious contention of the respondent that the accused, if released on bail, would interfere with the trial or tamper with evidence. We do not see any good reason to detain the accused in custody, that too, after the completion of the investigation and filing of the charge-sheet.

(Read the entire judgment here.)

 


2. Vaman Narain Ghiya v. State Of Rajasthan

Citation          (2009) 2 SCC 281

Coram            Dr. Arijit Pasayat and Dr. M.K. Sharma, JJ.

D.O.D             December 12 , 2008

 

Bail- Meaning

Held

  • “Bail” remains an undefined term in the P.C. Nowhere else the term has been statutorily defined. Conceptually, it continues to be understood as a right for assertion of freedom against the State imposing restraints since the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, to which India is a signatory , the concept of bail has found a place within the scope of human rights. The dictionary meaning of the expression `bail’ denotes a security for appearance of a prisoner for his release. Etymologically, the word is derived from an old French verb `bailer’ which means to `give’ or `to deliver’, although another view is that its derivation is from the Latin term baiulare, meaning `to bear a burden’. Bail is a conditional liberty.
  • Bail may thus be regarded as a mechanism whereby the State devolutes upon the community the function of securing the presence of the prisoners, and at the same time involves participation of the community in administration of justice.

Balance to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational right of the police. -An accused is not detained in custody with the object of punishing him on the assumption of his guilt.

Held

  • Personal liberty is fundamental and can be circumscribed only by some process sanctioned by law. Liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important but this is to balance with the security of the community. A balance is required to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational right of the police. It must result in minimum interference with the personal liberty of the accused and the right of the police to investigate the case. It has to dovetail two conflicting demands, namely, on the one hand the requirements of the society for being shielded from the hazards of being exposed to the misadventures of a person alleged to have committed a crime; and on the other, the fundamental canon of criminal jurisprudence viz. the presumption of innocence of an accused till he is found guilty. Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint, the more restraint on others to keep off from us, the more liberty we have.
  • The law of bail, like any other branch of law, has its own philosophy, and occupies an important place in the administration of justice and the concept of bail emerges from the conflict between the police power to restrict liberty of a man who is alleged to have committed a crime, and presumption of innocence in favour of the alleged criminal. An accused is not detained in custody with the object of punishing him on the assumption of his guilt.

Detailed discussion of the evidence and elaborate documentation of the merits is to be avoided

while considering an application for bail

Held

  • While considering an application for bail ,detailed discussion of the evidence and elaborate documentation of the merits is to be avoided. This requirement stems from the desirability that no party should have the impression that his case has been pre-judged. Existence of a prima facie case is only to be considered. Elaborate analysis or exhaustive exploration of the merits is not required. (See Niranjan Singh and Anr. v. Prabhakar Rajram Kharote and Ors). Where the offence is of serious nature the question of grant of bail has to be decided keeping in view the nature and seriousness of the offence, character of the evidence and amongst others the larger interest of the public. (See State of Maharashtra v. Anand Chaintaman Dighe AIR 1990 SC 625 and State v. Surendranath Mohanty 1990 (3) OCR 462).

(Read the entire judgment here.)


3. Sukhwant Singh and Others v.  State Of Punjab

Citation          (2009) 7 SCC 559

Coram             Markandey Katju and Deepak Verma, JJ.

D.O.D              May 18, 2009

 

Reputation of a person is his valuable asset and is a facet of his right under Article 21- Grant of interim bail pending regular bail application

 Held

  • Following the decision of this Court in the case of Kamlendra Pratap Singh Vs. State of U.P. and Others [(2009) 4 SCC 437], we reiterate that a Court hearing a regular bail application has got inherent power to grant interim bail pending final disposal of the bail application. In our opinion, this is the proper view in view of Article 21 of the Constitution of India which protects the life and liberty of every person.
  • When a person applies for regular bail then the court concerned ordinarily lists that application after a few days so that it can look into the case diary which has to be obtained from the police authorities and in the meantime the applicant has to go to jail. Even if the applicant is released on bail thereafter, his reputation may be tarnished irreparably in society. The reputation of a person is his valuable asset, and is a facet of his right under Article 21 of the Constitution vide Deepak Bajaj v. State of Maharashtra and Another [(2008) 16 SCC 14].
  • Hence, we are of the opinion that in the power to grant bail there is inherent power in the court concerned to grant interim bail to a person pending final disposal of the bail application. Of course, it is in the discretion of the court concerned to grant interim bail or not but the power is certainly there.

(Read the entire judgment here.)


4. State of U.P. Through C.B.I v. Amarmani Tripathi

Citation          (2005) 8 SCC 21

Coram             Ashok Bhan and R.V. Raveendran, JJ.

D.O.D              September 26, 2005

 

Application for cancellation of bail and appeal against order granting bail- Relevant factors to be considered

Held

  • In an application for cancellation, conduct subsequent to release on bail and the supervening circumstances alone are relevant. But in an appeal against grant of bail, all aspects that were relevant under Section 439 read with Section 437 Cr.P.C, continue to be relevant. We, however, agree that while considering and deciding the appeals against grant of bail, where the accused has been at large for a considerable time, the post-bail conduct and supervening circumstances will also have to be taken note of. But they are not the only factors to be considered as in the case of applications for cancellation of bail.

 

Factors to be considered while granting bail

Held

  • It is well settled that the matters to be considered in an application for bail are (i) whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence; (ii) nature and gravity of the charge;(iii) severity of the punishment in the event of conviction; (iv) danger of accused absconding or fleeing if released on bail; (v) character, behavior, means, position and standing of the accused; (vi) likelihood of the offence being repeated; (vii) reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being tampered with; and (viii) danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail (See Prahlad Singh Bhati v. NCT, Delhi (2001) 4 SCC 280 and Gurcharan Singh v. State (Delhi Administration) (1978) 1 SCC 118). While a vague allegation that accused may tamper with the evidence or witnesses may not be a ground to refuse bail, if the accused is of such character that his mere presence at large would intimidate the witnesses or if there is material to show that he will use his liberty to subvert justice or tamper with the evidence, then bail will be refused.

Scope of interference in the matters of bail – Art 136

Held

  • The general rule that this Court will not ordinarily interfere in matters relating to bail, is subject to exceptions where there are special circumstances and when the basic requirements for grant of bail are completely ignored by the High Court.

[Refer to- Pawan v. Ram Prakash Pandey (2002) 9 SCC 166 and Ram Pratap Yadav v. Mitra Sen Yadav (2003) 1 SCC 15]

(Read the entire judgment here.)


5. Kalyan Chandra Sarkar v. Rajesh Ranjan @ Pappu Yadav and Another

Citation          (2005) 2 SCC 42

Coram             N. Santosh Hegde, S.B. Sinha and P.K. Balasubramanyan, JJ.

D.O.D              January 18, 2005

 

Person whose application for enlargement on bail is once rejected is not precluded from filing a subsequent application for grant of bail if there is a change in the fact situation

Held:

  • It is trite law that personal liberty cannot be taken away except in accordance with the procedure established by law. Personal liberty is a constitutional guarantee. However, Article 21 which guarantees the above right also contemplates deprivation of personal liberty by procedure established by law. Under the criminal laws of this country, a person accused of offences which are non bailable is liable to be detained in custody during the pendency of trial unless he is enlarged on bail in accordance with law. Such detention cannot be questioned as being violative of Article 21 since the same is authorised by law.
  • But even persons accused of non bailable offences are entitled for bail if the court concerned comes to the conclusion that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against him and/or if the court is satisfied for reasons to be recorded that in spite of the existence of prima facie case there is a need to release such persons on bail where fact situations require it to do so. In that process a person whose application for enlargement on bail is once rejected is not precluded from filing a subsequent application for grant of bail if there is a change in the fact situation. In such cases if the circumstances then prevailing requires that such persons to be released on bail, in spite of his earlier applications being rejected, the courts can do so.

Findings of a higher court or a coordinate bench must receive serious consideration at the hands of the court entertaining a bail application at a later stage when the same had been rejected earlier

Held

  • The principles of res judicata and such analogous principles although are not applicable in a criminal proceeding, but the courts are bound by the doctrine of judicial discipline having regard to the hierarchical system prevailing in our country. The findings of a higher court or a coordinate bench must receive serious consideration at the hands of the court entertaining a bail application at a later stage when the same had been rejected earlier. In such an event, the courts must give due weight to the grounds which weighed with the former or higher court in rejecting the bail application. Ordinarily, the issues which had been canvassed earlier would not be permitted to be reagitated on the same grounds, as the same it would lead to a speculation and uncertainty in the administration of justice and may lead to forum hunting.

Subsequent bail application – Allowed, if there is a change in the fact situation or in law which requires the earlier view being interfered with or where the earlier finding has become obsolete.

Held

  • The decisions given by a superior forum, undoubtedly, is binding on the subordinate fora on the same issue even in bail matters unless of course, there is a material change in the fact situation calling for a different view being taken. Therefore, even though there is room for filing a subsequent bail application in cases where earlier applications have been rejected, the same can be done if there is a change in the fact situation or in law which requires the earlier view being interfered with or where the earlier finding has become obsolete. This is the limited area in which an accused who has been denied bail earlier, can move a subsequent application. Therefore, we are not in agreement with the argument of learned counsel for the accused that in view the guaranty conferred on a person under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it is open to the aggrieved person to make successive bail applications even on a ground already rejected by courts earlier including the Apex Court of the country.

 

 (Read the entire judgment here.)


6. Ram Govind Upadhyay v. Sudarshan Singh and Others

Citation          (2002) 3 SCC 598

Coram             Umesh C. Banerjee and Y.K. Sabharwal, JJ

D.O.D              March 18 , 2002

 

Order for bail bereft of any cogent reason cannot be sustained

Held

  • Grant of bail though being a discretionary order but, however, calls for exercise of such a discretion in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course. Order for Bail bereft of any cogent reason cannot be sustained. Needless to record, however, that the grant of bail is dependent upon the contextual facts of the matter being dealt with by the Court and facts however do always vary from case to case. While placement of the accused in the society, though may be considered but that by itself cannot be a guiding factor in the matter of grant of bail and the same should and ought always be coupled with other circumstances warranting the grant of bail.

Relevant considerations for granting bail

Held

  • The nature of the offence is one of the basic consideration for the grant of bail more heinous is a crime, the greater is the chance of rejection of the bail, though, however, dependent on the factual matrix of the matter.
  • Apart from the above, certain other which may be attributed to be relevant considerations may also be noticed at this juncture though however, the same are only illustrative and nor exhaustive neither there can be any. The considerations being:

(a) While granting bail the Court has to keep in mind not only the nature of the accusations, but the severity of the punishment, if the accusation entails a conviction and the nature of evidence in support of the accusations.

(b) Reasonable apprehensions of the witnesses being tampered with or the apprehension of there being a threat for the complainant should also weigh with the Court in the matter of grant of bail.

(c) While it is not accepted to have the entire evidence establishing the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt but there ought always to be a prima facie satisfaction of the Court in support of the charge.

(d) Frivolity in prosecution should always be considered and it is only the element of genuineness that shall have to be considered in the matter of grant of bail and in the event of there being some doubt as to the genuineness of the prosecution, in the normal course of events, the accused is entitled to an order of bail.

 

Basic criterion for cancellation of bail -‘interference or even an attempt to interfere with the due course of administration of justice’

Held

  • While it is true that availability of overwhelming circumstances is necessary for an order as regards the cancellation of a bail order, the basic criterion, however, being interference or even an attempt to interfere with the due course of administration of justice and/or any abuse of the indulgence/privilege granted to the accused.

Duty incumbent on the High Court to explicitly state the reasons as to why the sudden departure in the order of grant as against the rejection

Held

  • Undoubtedly, considerations applicable to the grant of bail and considerations for cancellation of such an order of bail are independent and do not overlap each other, but in the event of non- consideration of considerations relevant for the purpose of grant of bail and in the event an earlier order of rejection available on the records, it is a duty incumbent on to the High Court to explicitly state the reasons as to why the sudden departure in the order of grant as against the rejection just about a month ago.
  • The subsequent FIR is on record and incorporated therein are the charges under Sections 323 and 504 IPC in which the charge-sheet have already been issued the Court ought to take note of the facts on record rather than ignoring it. In any event, the discretion to be used shall always have to be strictly in accordance with law and not de-hors the same. The High Court thought it fit not to record any reason far less any cogent reason as to why there should be a departure when in fact such a petition was dismissed earlier not very long ago.
  • The consideration of the period of one year spent in jail cannot in our view be a relevant consideration in the matter of grant of bail more so by reason of the fact that the offence charged is that of murder under Section 302 IPC having the punishment of death or life imprisonment it is a heinous crime against the society and as such the Court ought to be rather circumspect and cautious in its approach in a matter which stands out to be a social crime of very serious nature.

(Read the entire judgment here.)


7. Akhtari Bi (Smt.) v. State Of M.P.

Citation          (2001) 4 SCC 355

Coram             K.T. Thomas and  R.P. Sethi, JJ.

D.O.D              March 22 , 2001

Prolonged delay in disposal of the trials and thereafter appeals in criminal cases, for no fault of the accused, confers a right upon him to apply for bail

Held

  • To have speedy justice is a fundamental right which flows from Article 21 of the Constitution. Prolonged delay in disposal of the trials and thereafter appeals in criminal cases, for no fault of the accused, confers a right upon him to apply for bail. This Court, has time and again, reminded the executive of their obligation to appoint requisite number of judges to cope with the ever increasing pressure on the existing judicial apparatus. Appeal being a statutory right, the trial court’s verdict does not attain finality during pendency of the appeal and for that purpose his trial is deemed to be continuing despite conviction. It is unfortunate that even from the existing strength of the High Courts huge vacancies are not being filled up with the result that the accused in criminal cases are languishing in the jails for no fault of theirs. In the absence of prompt action under the constitution to fill up the vacancies, it is incumbent upon the high courts to find ways and means by taking steps to ensure the disposal of criminal appeals, particularly such appeals where the accused are in jails, that the matters are disposed of within the specified period not exceeding 5 years in any case. Regular benches to deal with the criminal cases can be set up where such appeals be listed for final disposal.
  • We feel that if an appeal is not disposed of within the aforesaid period of 5 years, for no fault of the convicts, such convicts may be released on bail on such conditions as may be deemed fit and proper by the Court. In computing the period of 5 years, the delay for any period, which is requisite in preparation of the record and the delay attributable to the convict or his counsel can be deducted. There may be cases where even after the lapse of 5 years the convicts may, under the special circumstances of the case, be held not entitled to bail pending the disposal of the appeals filed by them. We request the Chief Justices of the High Courts, where the criminal cases are pending for more than 5 years to take immediate effective steps for their disposal by constituting regular and special benches for that purposes.

 

 

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