Courts Update SC stays order of Allahabad HC granting bail to...

SC stays order of Allahabad HC granting bail to conman, fearing threat to his life due to COVID-19

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New Delhi, May 25 (ILNS) The Supreme Court today issued notice on a plea filed by the State of Uttar Pradesh against the order of Allahabad High Court, which had granted bail to a conman, on account of threat to his life by the COVID-19 pandemic, till 2022.

A two-Judge Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice BR Gavai also stayed the order, by which the High Court had held that apprehension of death due to the Novel Coronavirus pandemic is a ground for anticipatory bail. The apex court further appointed an Amicus in this case.

The Bench said in case the respondent/accused did not appear before this Court, “We shall stay the HC order and cancel the anticipatory bail. The larger issue, which is pointed out by the SG, whereby directions given by the HC with regard to the present COVID-19 situation. We appoint an Amicus in this court.”

The Top Court said, “As far as the observations are concerned it remain stayed and the courts shall not consider the said directions for the Anticipatory Bail and the same shall be dealt on merits of each and every case.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh, submitted that anticipatory bail was granted to this man, against who 30 cases were registered. The High Court has chosen not to go into the merits at all, he added.

The Bench asked, “Is he on bail in other cases? If he is outside, then why not bail in this case? We can understand that you have a problem with regard to the observation. Till which date he has been granted?”

The SG replied that till January 3, 2022, the accused has been granted bail.

The State of UP has filed an appeal against the order of Allahabad High Court, which had granted anticipatory bail to conman Prateek Jain on account of COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Court had stated in its order, keeping in view the inadequate medical facilities for treating the large number of persons getting infected day-by-day, the common accused cannot be left unprotected from the threat to his life on account of his arrest by police or surrender before the Court as per the normal procedure applicable to the accused in normal times.

While granting anticipatory bail, the court had stated; “Extraordinary times require extraordinary remedy and desperate times require remedial remedy. Law should be interpreted likewise.

“The established parameters for grant of anticipatory bail like the nature and gravity of accusation, the criminal antecedent of the applicant, the possibility of fleeing from justice and whether accusation has been made for injuring and humiliating the applicant by getting him arrested have now lost significance on account of present situation of the country and the State on account of spread of second wave of Novel Coronavirus.”

The court further stated; “There is also threat of spread of third wave of COVID-19 looming large over the entire country and it is uncertain when the aforesaid wave will abate and normal functioning of the Courts would be restored.

“Therefore, the apprehension of an accused being infected with Novel Coronavirus before and after his arrest and the possibility of his spreading the same while coming into contact with the police, Court and jail personnel or vice-versa, can be considered to be a valid ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused.

“The conventional and well settled grounds for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused implicated for alleged commission of non-bailable offence can be considered after the normal conditions in the society and the courts are restored then the anticipatory bail application of the accused persons shall be considered on ordinary parameters like in ordinary times.

“The experts are of the view that the third wave is likely to come in the month of September, 2021 and it is uncertain when the normal functioning of the Court would be restored.

“In such uncertain times, it would be against the requirement of Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides equality before law and equal protection of law, to leave an accused unprotected from arrest and suffer the consequences of being infected with novel corona virus.

“The apex court, while hearing the case regarding the preparation of the government to deal with spread of Novel Coronavirus has cautioned the government to prepare itself for the third wave of the same which may come,” it added.

The High Court had granted anticipatory bail on the following conditions:

“In view of the above facts and circumstances and after finding that the apprehension to life in the current scenario is a ground for grant of anticipatory bail to an accused, this Court hereby directs that the applicant, in case of his arrest, shall be enlarged on anticipatory bail for the limited period, till January 3, 2022 on the following conditions:

  1. The applicant shall, at the time of execution of the bond, furnish his address and mobile number and shall not change the residence till the conclusion of investigation/ trial without informing the Investigating Officer of the police/ the Court concerned of change of address and the reasons for the same before changing the same.
  2. The applicant shall not leave the country during the currency of trial/investigation by police without prior permission from the concerned trial Court.
  3. The applicant shall not obstruct or hamper the police investigation and not play mischeif with the evidence collected or yet to be collected by the Investigating Officer of the police;
  4. The applicant shall surrender his passport, if any, to the concerned Court/Investigating Officer forthwith. His passport will remain in custody of the concerned Court/ Investigating Officer till the investigation is completed. In case he has no passport, he will file his affidavit before the Court/ Investigating Officer concerned in this regard.
  5. That the applicant shall not, directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade his from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer;
  6. The applicant shall maintain law and order.
  7. The applicant shall file an undertaking to the effect that he shall not seek any adjournment before the trial court on the dates fixed for evidence and when the witnesses are present in court. In case of default of this condition, it shall be open for the trial court to treat it as abuse of liberty of bail and pass orders in accordance with law to ensure presence of the applicant.
  8. In case, the applicant misuses the liberty of bail, the Court concerned may take appropriate action in accordance with law and judgment of Apex Court in the case of Sushila Aggarwal vs. State (NCT of Delhi)- 2020 SCC Online SC 98 and the Government Advocate/informant/complainant can file bail cancellation application.
  9. The applicant shall remain present, in person, before the trial court on the dates fixed for (i) opening of the case, (ii) framing of charge and (iii) recording of statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C. If in the opinion of the trial court, default of this condition is deliberate or without sufficient cause, then it shall be open for the trial court to treat such default as abuse of liberty of her bail and proceed against him in accordance with law.
  10. The party shall file computer generated copy of such order downloaded from the official website of High Court Allahabad.
  11. The concerned Court/Authority/Official shall verify the authenticity of such computerized copy of the order from the official website of High Court Allahabad and shall make a declaration of such verification in writing.
  12. The applicant is warned not to get himself implicated in any crime and should keep distance from the informant and not to misuse the liberty granted hereby. Any misuse of liberty granted by this Court would be viewed seriously against the applicant in further proceedings.”

The High Court further held, “This anticipatory bail application is being allowed on account of special conditions and on special ground. The normal grounds, settled for the grant of anticipatory bail, have not been considered by this Court and it would be open for the applicant to approach this Court again, if so advised, in changed circumstances.” ILNS/ANI/RJ

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