15 September 2020

Bail cannot be withheld merely as a punishment

When accused surrendered before Sessions court, the court has powers u/s.439 of Cr.P.C. to release accused on personal bond for a short period pending the disposal of a bail application

    Bail is the antithesis of custody. In the absence of any riders or restrictions under S. 439 CrPC, any person accused of a non-bailable offence, under any penal law, including the violations under the Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, can apply under section 439 CrPC, offering to surrender and simultaneously seeking interim bail. On receipt of such application, the Court is to satisfy that the applicant stands arraigned as an accused in a FIR disclosing Non-Bailable offences, if all these parameters are complete, then the Courts are under an obligation to accept surrender. Since custody is a sine qua non for considering a bail application, the Court is under an obligation to consider the prayer for interim bail after this deemed custody. All such pleas fall under the scope of S. 439 CrPC itself, and there is no need to invoke S. 482 CrPC. After that, granting or refusing interim bail is a Judicial function.[Para No.63]

Bail cannot be withheld merely as a punishment
   While granting interim bail, the rights of the victims, their families, the oppressed communities, the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that a person has committed an offence punishable with death or transportation for life, the gravity and heinous nature of the crime, the criminal history of the accused, as well as of the possibility of false implication, should always be gone into. Bail cannot be withheld merely as a punishment. One of the most significant considerations is the accused's conduct, which was not to abscond but voluntarily to surrender and submit herself to the majesty of Justice. Each case will have to be decided on the cumulative effect of all events put before the Court. However, there would be no justification in entering into a roving inquiry on either party's allegations[Para No.64]

    The Court must decide the prayer for interim bail on that day itself when it takes the accused in its custody. Such interim bail can extend till the bail application's final disposal, on the police file's production, or the status report. However, powers to grant interim bail should be exercised in a judicial and not in an arbitrary manner, and if given, then for the purpose of interim bail, personal bonds alone would suffice. If the allegations are serious, keeping in view the object of the SCSTPOA and the purpose for which this stringent provision in SCSTPOA was enacted, then indeed, such interim protection either be rejected or, if granted, can always be withdrawn on the next hearings.[Para no.66]

   The interim bail is neither in contradiction to the judicial precedents nor obstructs Justice's path. Thus, resorting to S. 439 CrPC and surrendering before Sessions Court or High Court and simultaneously obtaining ad-interim bail does not amount to bypassing the restrictions placed in S. 18 and 18-A of SCSTPOA. This practice of the accused surrendering and getting interim bail cannot be said to override the legislative intention of restraining the anticipatory bail to the violators of the SCSTPOA.[Para No.67]

Himachal Pradesh High Court

Ami Chand
State Of Himachal Pradesh

Decided on 14/09/2020

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