Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Sandeep Sharma J. dismissed both writ petitions filed by the petitioners stating that the freedom of an individual cannot be curtailed for indefinite period on the basis of suspicion, especially when his/her guilt is yet to be proved, in accordance with law.

The instant case is represented by counsel N.K. Thakur, with Divya Raj Singh for petitioners and Sudhir Bhatnagar, Arvind Sharma and Anil Jaswal for respondents.

The petitioner was taken into custody on 10.01.2020 charged under Section 3 (II) (I) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and subsequently was released on bail subject to his furnishing personal bonds in the sum of Rs  20,000 to the satisfaction of the concerned Court. The status report which is prepared on the basis of the investigation carried out by the Investigating Agency was perused and returned stating that pursuant to order dated 10.1.2020, bail petitioner has joined the investigation and he is fully cooperating. It was further stated that nothing remains to be recovered from the bail petitioner.

The Court finds that investigation in the case is complete and nothing is required to be recovered from the bail petitioner, hence no reason left for custodial interrogation of the bail petitioner, especially when guilt, if any, is yet to be determined, in accordance with law on the basis of totality of evidence to be collected on record by the Investigating Agency. 

The Court relied on the Supreme Court Judgment, Dataram Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2018) 3 SCC 22 decided while deciding the present case.

Bench held that object of the bail is to secure the attendance of the accused in the trial and the proper test to be applied in the solution of the question whether bail should be granted or refused is whether it is probable that the party will appear to take his trial. Bail is not to be withheld as a punishment. Court has to keep in mind nature of accusations, nature of evidence in support thereof, severity of the punishment which conviction will entail, character of the accused, circumstances which are peculiar to the accused involved in that crime.

In view of the above, the bail petitions are disposed of. [Keshva Nand v. State of H.P., 2020 SCC OnLine HP 258, decided on 25-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Sandeep Sharma, J. contemplated a bail application filed under Section 439 of CrPC where the applicant was charged under Sections 21, 61 and 85 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner was on his motorcycle when he was asked to stop by the authorities and was searched. The petitioner who alleged to be a chemist was found with prohibited drug in huge quantity. The police prepared a recovery memo in front of an independent witness. It was the story of the police that the petitioner failed to produce any permit of license of the prohibited drug. The petitioner was arrested soon after and since then he was in custody.

Additional Advocate General of the State, Sumesh Raj, submitted that the petitioner had not disclosed the source from where he received the illegal drugs he further strenuously argued that keeping in view the gravity of the offence alleged to be committed by the bail petitioner, he did not deserve any leniency, rather needed to be dealt with severely.

On the contrary the counsel for the petitioner K.S. Banyal, contended that the drug named ‘lomotil’ which was allegedly recovered from the petitioner was outside the purview of the definition of manufactured drugs as defined under Section 2(xi) of the Act. On the scientific grounds he argued that the preparations of Diphenoxylate calculated as base, and a quantity of Atropine sulphate equivalent to at least one percent of the dose of Diphenoxylate did not fall under the definition of manufactured drugs, as notified by the Government. He further contended that as far as Tramadol the other drug was concerned, the same was of intermediate quantity and as such, rigour of Section 37 was not attracted in the present case. He further contended that for the last four months bail petitioner was behind the bars and there was none at his home to take care of his widow mother.

The Court held that though the offences were of serious nature but considering the age of the petitioner who is very young and his family background and financial background, Court found no reason to let him incarcerate in jail. It was further held that, “Tramadol allegedly recovered from the bail petitioner is also of intermediate quantity, rigor of Section 37 are not attracted in the present case and as such, freedom of bail petitioner whose guilt, if any, is otherwise yet to be ascertained/determined by the Court of law on the basis of cogent and convincing evidence, if any, led on record by the Investigating Agency, cannot be allowed to curtail for indefinite period, during trial.” Hence, bail was granted to the petitioner on certain conditions. [Ankit Kumar v. State of H.P., 2019 SCC OnLine HP 1498, decided on 11-09-2019]

Case Briefs

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sandeep Sharma, J., decided a criminal petition filed under Section 439 CrPC, wherein the petitioner-accused was enlarged on regular bail keeping in mind that he was languishing in prison for almost three years, and his guilt was yet to be proved.

The petitioner was in judicial lockup since 2015 in relation to offences punishable under Sections 363, 366-A and 376 of IPC along with Section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that a bare perusal of the records show that the victim joined the petitioner of her own volition and at no time was she compelled to accompany the petitioner. The petitioner and the victim were known to each other for a considerable period of time and both had agreed to marry each other. Further, there was no definite evidence to show that at the time of alleged incident, the victim girl was a minor; infact, the forensic report suggests otherwise. Also there was an unexplained delay of 22 days in lodging the complaint of the incident. It was contended that the petitioner was in custody for almost 3 years without his fault, and as such he deserved to be enlarged on bail.

The High Court perused the record and found favor with the submissions made on behalf of the petitioner. The Court also referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court to discuss the principles to be kept in mind while deciding a bail petition. The High Court observed that freedom of an individual cannot be curtailed for an indefinite period, especially when his guilt is yet to be proved in accordance with law. Freedom of an individual is of utmost importance and same cannot be curtailed merely on the basis of suspicion; till the time guilt of the accused is not proved in accordance with law, he is deemed to be innocent.

Keeping the above observations and findings in mind, the Court allowed the petition and enlarged the petitioner on bail, subject to conditions imposed. [Pinku Singh v. State of H.P., Cr. MP (M) No. 50 of 2018, dated 26.2.2018]