New Delhi, Apr 26 (ILNS): The Supreme Court has set aside the bail granted to a man accused of a heinous crime, stating that it is important that Courts do not enlarge an accused on bail with a ‘blinkered vision,’ by just taking into account only the parties before them and the incident in question. (Sudha Singh Vs The State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors)
The Court’s decision came on an appeal filed by a woman, who has challenged the order of the Allahabad High Court, which had granted bail to a man accused of murdering her husband. The accused was charged under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder)(2) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act, 1959, along with offence punishable under Section 3 (1) of the UP Gangster and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.
The accused is alleged to be a contract killer and a sharpshooter. In fact, previously, the accused has been prosecuted in 15 cases for serious offences including murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
A Bench led by former CJI SA Bobde, on his last day as the Supreme Court CJI, pronounced the decision. He said, “It is necessary for courts to consider the impact that release of such persons on bail will have on the witnesses yet to be examined and the innocent members of the family of the victim who might be the next victims.
“There is no doubt that liberty is important, even that of a person charged with crime, but it is important for the courts to recognise the potential threat to the life and liberty of victims/witnesses, if such accused is released on bail,” said the bench which also comprised Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
“We, therefore, allow the appeal and set aside the order of the Allahabad High Court granting bail to the accused,” it held.
The petitioner whose husband was murdered made an appeal to the Apex Court with an example of a case of Vikas Dubey. She has contended that the grant of bail in a routine manner to gangsters has had an adverse effect in the past, upon the law and order situation. Citing the example of Vikas Dubey she said that he was prosecuted in connection with 64 criminal cases which included cases of murders, offences of dacoity, criminal intimidation, extortion and offences under the UP-Gangster Act, etc. But when he was released on bail, he allegedly killed 8 policemen who went to apprehend him.
She further contended that courts must be extremely careful in releasing of history sheeters who have been charged with serious offences like murder, rape or other kinds of bodily harms several times.
It has also been submitted by the petitioner that the conduct of the accused during the trial of the case in Case No. 511 of 2016 has been one of non cooperation, by not cross examining the witnesses first, then praying for their recall and then threatening witnesses through his henchmen. In fact, the conduct of the accused impelled the Sessions court to direct the police to provide security in the court during the trial and provide security to the witnesses, she said.
The Top Court conferred with the argument of the petitioner and said, “We find in this case that the high court has overlooked several aspects, such as the potential threat to witnesses, forcing the trial court to grant protection. It is needless to point out that in cases of this nature, it is important that courts do not enlarge an accused on bail with a blinkered vision by just taking into account only the parties before them and the incident in question.”
The Supreme Court has noted that the Allahabad High Court had granted bail to the accused on the execution of a personal bond to the satisfaction of the jail Authorities and the furnishing of sureties within a month of his release.
The Supreme Court Bench has relied on several judgments like Neeru Yadav vs. State of U.P, wherein it was held that when a stand was taken that the accused was a history sheeter, it was imperative for the High Courts to scrutinise every aspect and not capriciously record that the accused was entitled to be released on bail on the ground of parity.
In Ash Mohammad vs. Shiv Raj Singh wherein the Court has observed that when citizens were scared to lead a peaceful life and heinous offences were obstructions in the establishment of a well-ordered society, the courts play an even more important role, and the burden is heavy. It emphasized on the need to have a proper analysis of the criminal antecedents of the accused.
In Prasanta Kumar Sarkar vs. Ashis Chatterjee and Another. it was held that this Court ordinarily would not interfere with a High Court’s order granting or rejecting bail to an accused. Nonetheless, it was equally imperative for the High Court to exercise its discretion judiciously, cautiously and strictly in compliance with the ratio set by a catena of decisions of this Court. The factors laid down in the judgment were:
(i) Whether there was a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence;
(ii) nature and gravity of accusations;
(iii) severity of the punishment in the event of a conviction;
(iv) danger of the accused absconding or fleeing, if granted bail;
(v) character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the accused;
(vi) likelihood of repetition of the offence;
(vii) reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being influenced; and
(viii) danger of justice being thwarted by grant of bail.