Ramaditya Tiwari, Associate- O.P. KHAITAN & Co
Introduction: In the matter of Myakala Dharmarajam & Ors. State of Telangana & Anr. Criminal Appeal Nos. 1974- 1975 of 2019 (@ SLP (Crl.) Nos.8882-8883 of 2019) decided on 7.1.2020 the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that for the purpose of bail, the Court must not undertake meticulous examination of the evidence collected by the police and comment on the same. Therefore, not to interfere with the right to liberty and presumption of innocence of the under trial.
Facts: The High Court allowed the applications filed for cancellation of bail on the ground that the Principal Sessions Judge did not consider the material available on record before granting bail to the Appellants. The High Court further held that the criminal antecedents of the Appellants were not taken into account by the trial Court. That apart, the High Court accepted the submissions that the Appellants indulged in threatening the witnesses after being released on bail. The Appellants in the Hon’ble Supreme Court urged that the order passed by the High Court is liable to be set aside as there were no compelling reasons for interfering with the order of the Sessions Court by which they were released on bail.
Judgement: The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India referred to Kanwar Singh Meena v. State of Rajasthan & Anr. (2012) 12 SCC 180 wherein it was held that the factors to be considered while granting bail have been held by this Court to be the gravity of the crime, the character of the evidence, position and status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and repeating the offence, the possibility of his tampering with the evidence and witnesses, and obstructing the course of justice etc. Each criminal case presents its own peculiar factual scenario and, therefore, certain grounds peculiar to a particular case may have to be taken into account by the Court. The court has to only opine as to whether there is prima facie case against the accused.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in paragraph 7 considering Raghubir Singh v. State of Bihar, (1986) 4 SCC 481 wherein the Court held that, “… bail can be cancelled where (i) the accused misuses his liberty by indulging in similar criminal activity, (ii) interferes with the course of investigation, (iii) attempts to tamper with evidence or witnesses, (iv) threatens witnesses or indulges in similar activities which would hamper smooth investigation, (v) there is likelihood of his fleeing to another country, (vi) attempts to make himself scarce by going underground or becoming unavailable to the investigating agency, (vii) attempts to place himself beyond the reach of his surety, etc. The above grounds are illustrative and not exhaustive. It must also be remembered that rejection of bail stands on one footing but cancellation of bail is a harsh order because it interferes with the liberty of the individual and hence it must not be lightly resorted to.”
The Hon’ble Apex Court further held that, “Having perused the law laid down by this Court on the scope of the power to be exercised in the matter of cancellation of bails, it is necessary to examine whether the order passed by the Sessions Court granting bail is perverse and suffers from infirmities which has resulted in the miscarriage of justice. No doubt, the Sessions Court did not discuss the material on record in detail, but there is an indication from the orders by which bail was granted that the entire material was perused before grant of bail. It is not the case of either the complainant-Respondent No.2 or the State that irrelevant considerations have been taken into account by the Sessions Court while granting bail to the Appellants. The order of the Sessions Court by which the bail was granted to the Appellants cannot be termed as perverse as the Sessions Court was conscious of the fact that the investigation was completed and there was no likelihood of the Appellant tampering with the evidence.” (refer paragraph 9)
Conclusion: That the Courts below especially the Trial Courts and High Courts must not act mechanically without due application to the procedure established by law and ratio laid down by the Apex Court while considering cancellation of bail which in fact curtails the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution of India, 1950, to be specific, right to liberty and presumption of innocence which are of paramount consideration in the criminal jurisprudence. Therefore, the Courts while considering Cancellation of bail must be extra cautious as there must be an established fact/circumstance in negation to the dictum of the bail order and not merely based on frivolous and vague allegations with sole intention to dismantle the process of justice and prolong judicial custody of an under trial without cogent cause and reason.