punjab and haryana high court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In a matter involving the question of maintainability of a second application seeking anticipatory bail, the Bench of Sandeep Moudgil, J. highlighted that the petitioner had not surrendered before the Court as undertaken previously before the Court, and the said fact was concealed in the instant petition. Hence, the Court dismissed the instant petition and imposed costs of Rs 1 lakh against the counsel for the petitioner.

The petitioner invoked jurisdiction of the Court for the second time under Section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) seeking anticipatory bail for offences under Sections 148, 149, 323, 302, 324 and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). It was asserted that second anticipatory bail applications were entertained for two of the co-accused who were granted interim protection vide orders dated 8-08-2023 and 20-09-2023. The first anticipatory bail applications of the two co-accused were withdrawn on account of pendency of criminal revision petition, whose dismissal led to preferring the second anticipatory bail application. The Court had therefore granted interim relief with directions to the petitioner to surrender before the Trial Court, while restricting any coercive steps against him.

It was revealed that the petitioner annexed one of the orders withdrawing first petition, but failed to annex the other order dated 17-08-2022, deliberately and maliciously concealing the fact, that the petitioner submitted an undertaking to surrender within a week beginning from 17-08-2022. The said order contained a direction that “no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner and in case the petitioner surrenders and files an application for bail, same shall be considered by the trial Court expeditiously as possible and preferably within a period of three days.”

The Court highlighted that there was no whisper around the said order in the pleadings regarding the petitioner’s undertaking to surrender, which the petitioner concealed and simply made a reference to withdrawal of bail application due to criminal revision, and now urged for maintainability of second petition on the very account. It noted that the Court record clarified that the petitioner did not attempt to surrender to comply with his own undertaking made on 17-08-2022, till he withdrew the petition on 15-02-2023 without any explanation except the stay in criminal revision petition.

The Court did not find the said argument very convincing and refused to accept petitioner’s reliance on Rani Dudeja v. State of Haryana, (2017) 13 SCC 555 regarding maintainability of second petition for anticipatory bail while comparing the facts and the Court’s reasoning while disposing of the said matter. It further said that the facts and circumstances in the instant case were completely distinct and strictly remarked that “glaring attempt has been made on behalf of the petitioner to mislead this Court by concealing the fact of order dated 17.08.2022 to which the petitioner never made an attempt to comply with that was to surrender within a period of one week and today taking a plea that since the proceedings before the trial Court after summoning under Section 319 CrPC, were stayed is also found to be incorrect as admittedly the stay was granted to the petitioner only on 28.10.2022. Till then there was more than 2 ½ months’ time for the petitioner to surrender and comply before the trial Court probably on account of which he would have applied for regular bail and the High Court would have been lenient and fair enough to direct the trial Court to decide the said regular bail application expeditiously as far as possible within a period of three days.”

The Court targeted the attempt made on behalf of the petitioner apparent on face that the petitioner did not approach the Court with clean hands, not only misled the Court but the act tantamounted to an attempt of contempt of court for not complying with order dated 17-08-2022, and even after order dated 15-02-2023 which was deliberately being avoided. Since the fact was concealed in the instant petition, the Court held the same as “mischievous, malicious and contemptuous act on the part of the litigant who is already facing criminal trial putting a seal on his conduct and criminal tendency particularly considering the offence under Section 302 daring enough to make such fraudulent act without disclosing the true and correct facts. Law will come to the rescue of those, who come to the Court with clean hands and show their antecedents to be bona fide.”

The Court held that the second anticipatory bail application was not maintainable and dismissed the instant petition and added that “exemplary costs need to be imposed so that no one could dare to take the Courts for a ride.” Therefore, the Court imposed Rs 1 lakh costs upon the counsel for the petitioner and directed the same to be deposited in the Punjab and Haryana High Court Lawyers’ Welfare Fund.

[Gulab Singh v. State of Haryana, 2023 SCC OnLine P&H 2441, decided on 17-10-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate Prashant Bansal

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