Supreme Court SC to hear bail petition of an accused...

SC to hear bail petition of an accused languishing in jail since 2016, yet no sign on framing of charges against him

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New Delhi, May 4 (ILNS): The Supreme Court today took note of the plea of an accused of embezzlement of more than Rs 70 crores, who is in custody since April 2016 but charges have not been framed against him yet, even though though a considerable time has lapsed and 156 proceedings have taken place.

A Two Judge bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hemant Gupta directed Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Vijaypur to submit a report of the proceedings held and to also intimate the court as to what is the impediment in framing of charges.

The petitioner approached the Supreme courts against the order of the High Court which rejected his bail petition. It was contended before the High court –“as far as commencement of trial is considered, all offenses are triable by magistrate and they are warrant cases, an opportunity u/s 239 CRPC has to be accorded to accused for hearing before charge. Adjourning the matter for 156 times is unwarranted.”

The counsel was petitioner said that the arguments on the point of framing of charges have not been concluded in a case related to embezzlement of more than 70 crore rupees even though 156 proceedings have taken place.

The court also directed the investigating agency to provide requisite information in this regard and listed the matter in the week commencing after summer vacation. 

In its previous order , the apex court on March 15, 2021 directed the Petitioner to furnish details of his as well as his wife and children’s assets. The Petitioner, aggrieved by the order passed by Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Vijaypur on September 2, 2020 approached the High Court seeking bail. The High court rejected bail petition filed under 439 CRPC only for the offences 409, 420, 34 of IPC.

The issue involved is that the officials holding entrustment of cash in the banks , committed breach of trust and misappropriation , thus cheated various customers by forging the documents and manipulated the transactions. As per the Investigation agency, the total amount which has been embezzled is to the tune of Rs. 70,44,25,056/. Such amount includes of local bodies and organisations as well. Total nine persons have been named as accused in the present case.

It is to be noted that out of 9 accused persons, 3 are out on bail. The Petitioner is in judicial custody from April 22, 2016.

The Supreme court bench observed that some of the properties of the petitioner are seized and two of the properties are the ancestral ones. Charges in the trial court have not been framed yet and it is not likely to be due to the unforeseen circumstances of the Pandemic. The contentions of the counsel of petitioner, that the matter is being adjourning unnecessarily , and also urged to grant him the bail in this pandemic situation.  

The contention that the petitioner is likely to get infected or come in contact by the COVID-19 virus was made before High Court which was not taken into consideration by the High court.

The counsel for the petitioner cited the case of RAJ DEO SHARMA V STATE OF BIHAR ( 1998)7 SCC 507, in which the apex court had emphasized upon pre-trial conviction while keeping the accused in judicial custody for longer period of time and taking the reference of conditions laid down in AR ANTULAY CASE,  (1992(1)SCC 225) should be taken into account and he should be granted bail.  

The Apex Court had held, “In cases where the trial is for an offense punishable with imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years, whether the accused is in jail or not, the court shall close the prosecution evidence on completion of a period of two years from the date of recording the plea of the accused on the charges framed whether the prosecution has examined all the witnesses or not, within the said period and the court can proceed to the next step provided by law for the trial of the case, the counsel for petitioner argued.” ” In such cases as mentioned above, if the accused has been in jail for a period of not less than one half of the maximum period of punishment prescribed for the offence, the trial court shall release the accused on bail forthwith on such conditions as it deems fit,” the Apex Court said.

The Apex Court further said, “If the offense under trial is punishable with imprisonment for a period exceeding 7 years, whether the accused is in jail or not, the court shall close the prosecution evidence on completion of three years from the date of recording the plea of the accused on the charge framed, whether the prosecution has examined all the witnesses or not within the said period and the court can proceed to the next step provided by law for the trial of the case, unless for very exceptional reasons to be recorded and in the interest of justice the court considers it necessary to grant further time to the prosecution to adduce evidence beyond the aforesaid time limit. But if the inability for completing the prosecution within the aforesaid period is attributable to the conduct of the accused in protracting the trial, no court is obliged to close the prosecution evidence within the aforesaid period in any of the cases covered by clauses.” (ILNS)/KY/KR/SNG

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