Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of led by former CJI SA Bobde, along with AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ has set aside the order of the Allahabad High Court granting bail to a gangster arrested under Section 3 (1) of the U.P. Gangster and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986
“There is no doubt that liberty is important, even that of a person charged with crime but it is important for the courts to recognise the potential threat to the life and liberty of victims/witnesses, if such accused is released on bail.”
Rajnarain Singh was murdered by the accused, a contract killer and a sharpshooter, in conspiracy with others. In fact, previously, the accused has been prosecuted in fifteen cases for serious offences including murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
It was argued before the Supreme Court that the Allahabad High Court granted bail on very liberal terms, such as the execution of a personal bond to the satisfaction of the jail Authorities and the furnishing of sureties within a month of his release. “The High court has simply ignored the antecedents of the accused and the potential to repeat his acts by organising his criminal activities.”
The deceased victim’s wife also contended that the conduct of the accused during the trial has been one of non-cooperation, by not cross examining the witnesses first, then praying for their recall and then threatening witnesses through his henchmen. In fact, the conduct of the accused impelled the Sessions court to direct the police to provide security in the court during the trial and provide security to the witnesses.
Making a strong case, the appellant also argued that the grant of bail in a routine manner to gangsters, has had an adverse effect in the past, upon the law and order situation. The Court was reminded of the case where Vikas Dubey, who was prosecuted in connection with 64 criminal cases which included cases of murders, offences of dacoity, criminal intimidation, extortion and offences under the UP-Gangster Act, etc., was released on bail. Ultimately, when a police team went to apprehend him in a case, allegedly 8 policemen were killed and many grievously injured.
Taking note of all the factors concerned, the Court said that the high court has overlooked several aspects, such as the potential threat to witnesses, forcing the trial court to grant protection.
“It is needless to point out that in cases of this nature, it is important that courts do not enlarge an accused on bail with a blinkered vision by just taking into account only the parties before them and the incident in question. It is necessary for courts to consider the impact that release of such persons on bail will have on the witnesses yet to be examined and the innocent members of the family of the victim who might be the next victims.”
[Sudha Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 342, decided on 23.04.2021]