Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding the instant petition filed under Section 438 of CrPC for grant of anticipatory bail, the Bench of Arun Kumar Tyagi, J., observed that there has been rise in the cases of assault and use of criminal force to obstruct a public servant from discharging their duties, thus it is imperative to sternly deal with such cases. The Court further stated that, To curb the tendency of assaulting or using criminal force to public servants, the protective shield of law has to be extended to such public servants to enable them to effectively discharge their duties without any fear.”

 As per the facts, FIR was registered on a statement made by the Agriculture Development Officer (ADO) Husandeep Singh Brar who alleged that the accused had abused, chased and obstructed the public servants in discharge of their duties and to have damaged their vehicle. It was furthermore alleged that the accused persons have caused injuries to the public servants concerned including lady officer who was part of the team of the public servants who visited the village on 08-06-2020 to persuade the accused not to plant paddy crop before the date notified as per the government instructions i.e.10-06-2020. The counsels for the petitioners contended that there is no medical opinion as to any injury caused being dangerous to life and offence under Section 307 of the IPC is not made out. They further submitted that Offences under Sections 186, 323 and 427 of the IPC are bailable and only the offence under Section 353 of the IPC is non-bailable. The offences under Sections 307 and 382 of the IPC have been added later on. They further argued that there is no requirement of a custodial interrogation especially of the co-accused (petitioner 2 in the instant case), as there is no prima facie offence of snatching of mobile phone from the concerned public servant. Per contra, counsel for the State argued that the petitioner actively participated in the offences and chased the concerned public servants with an intention to give blow with a tangli tied in his hand and the petitioner along with co-accused damaged the vehicle in which the public servants were traveling, therefore custodial interrogation is required.

While perusing the facts and averments made by the parties, the Court referred to P. Chidambaram v. Directorate of Enforcement, (2019) 9 SCC 24 wherein the Supreme Court had observed that, “Power under Section 438 CrPC is an extraordinary power and the same has to be exercised sparingly. The privilege of the pre-arrest bail should be granted only in exceptional cases”. The Bench further noted that, “Custodial interrogation of the accused may provide information leading to discovery of material facts. Curtailing of his freedom is necessary in order to enable the investigation to proceed without hindrance and to protect witnesses.” Therefore, in view of the facts and the circumstances, the Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to the petitioners. [Gurpreet Singh v. State of Punjab, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 838, decided on 01-07-2020]

*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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