kerala high court

Kerala High Court: In a petition filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) seeking to quash order cancelling bail granted to the petitioner due to involvement in subsequent crime, Raja Vijayaraghavan V., J. reiterated that misuse of liberty by getting involved in a similar crime while on bail in an existing criminal matter is a sufficient ground for cancellation of bail.

The petitioner in the instant case was the primary accused in a criminal matter under Section 20(b)(ii)(C) and Section 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for being found in possession of concealed 40.5 Kg of Ganja. Being involved in another crime, he was arrested on 18-11-2021, and in custody till 17-5-2022. He was granted bail through order dated 24-5-2022 with the condition that involvement in any other crime while on bail will entitle the investigating officer to proceed with application before Court for cancellation of bail.

On 13-10-2022, police received secret information and found the petitioner and 3 others in possession of 14.25 Kg Ganja and 850 gm Hash oil allegedly armed with weapons, which led to registration of another case under Section 20(b)(ii)B and Section 29 of the NDPS Act and under Section 27 of the Arms Act, 1959.

Thus, the investigating officer in furtherance of condition imposed by the Court regarding subsequent crime approached the Court within 5 months and filed an application for cancellation of bail. Finding prima facie materials to show misuse of liberty by the petitioner, the Special Judge cancelled bail granted to the petitioner, which has been challenged in the instant matter.

The Court considered the question of whether the Special Judge was justified in revoking bail granted to the petitioner for abusing freedom granted. The Court noted that as against the condition not to involve in any other crime while on bail, the petitioner got involved in a similar crime.

The Court pointed towards the thin line of difference between ‘setting aside of an unjustified, illegal, or perverse order by a superior court’ and ‘cancelling bail by Court on the ground of accused’s or because of some new facts requiring such intervention’ as explained in Gurcharan Singh v. State (Delhi Admn.), (1978) 1 SCC 118. The Court had held that in such circumstances, the State may move the same Court after new circumstances arise, or approach the Superior Court under Section 439(2) of CrPC to commit the accused to custody. But if the State is aggrieved by grant of bail in the absence of new circumstances, it is competent to move the High Court rather than the same Court. The same was reiterated in Puran v. Rambilas, (2001) 6 SCC 338,; Abdul Basit v. Mohd. Abdul Kadir Chaudhary, (2014) 10 SCC 754 and Ranjit Singh v. State of M.P., (2013) 16 SCC 797.

The Court said that cancellation of bail by the Special Judge for the order being ‘unjustified, illegal, or perverse’ shall be governed by the principles laid in Dolat Ram v. State of Haryana, (1995) 1 SCC 349 requiring ‘very cogent and overwhelming circumstances’ for cancellation of bail already granted, making sure that the bail is not cancelled in a mechanical manner without considering any supervening circumstances.

The Court referred to P. v. State of M.P., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 552 which lists the circumstances when bail granted to the accused under Section 439(1) CrPC can be revoked, which also includes misuse of liberty by indulging in another criminal activity as a sufficient ground for cancelling the bail already granted.

The Court found the Special Judge well justified in cancelling the bail to the petitioner for being involved in another crime while on bail. It further clarified that any application by the petitioner for seeking regular bail shall be considered as per the principles governing grant of bail under the NDPS Act and Deepak Yadav v. State of U.P., (2022) 8 SCC 559.

[Navas v. State of Kerala, 2023 SCC OnLine Ker 3670, Order dated 1-6-2023]

Order by: Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan V.

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate P. Mohamed Sabah, Advocate Libin Stanley, Advocate Sai Pooja, Advocate Sadik Ismayil, Advocate R. Gayathri, Advocate M. Mahin Hamza, Advocate Alwin Joseph;

For Respondents: Senior Public Prosecutor Vipin Narayan.

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