Gravity alone cannot be decisive ground to deny bail

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sandeep Sharma, J., decided a criminal petition filed under Section 439 of CrPC, wherein it was held that gravity of the offence can not be the sole ground to deny bail to the accused, rather it has to be weighed with competing factors.

The petitioner was accused in a criminal case registered under Sections 366, 376 and 504 of IPC. It was alleged that the petitioner took the prosecutrix in her car against her will, threatened her to marry him, and committed sexual assault on her. The petitioner denied the allegations, and submitted that the prosecutrix went along with him of her own free will. It was also submitted that the petitioner was a student aged 24 years, and if he is allowed to be incarcerated in jail for indefinite period, it would prejudice his career and future.

The High Court after perusing the record, observed that the prosecutrix along with her cousin went in the car of the petitioner of her own will and prima facie material did not show that she was threatened by the petitioner as they also stopped at a certain place and had dinner where the prosecutrix had a chance to raise an alarm, which she chose not to. The Court referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court to discuss the law and principles regarding the grant of bail and reached the conclusion that gravity of offence has to be weighed against other factors like nature of evidence, severity of punishment, character of the accused and circumstances peculiar to the accused involved in the crime.

Basing its decision on the observations made in the facts and circumstances of the instant case, the High Court allowed the petition and enlarged him on bail, subject to conditions imposed. [Manoj Kumar v. State of H.P., 2018 SCC OnLine HP 118, order dated 19.1.2018]

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