Himachal Pradesh High Court: Jyotsna Rewal Dua, J., laid down directions to avoid future abuse of judicial process like in the instant case and granted bail to the petitioner.
The present case was a shocking case before the Bench as it involved 2 separate bail petitions being filed by the same bail petitioner arising out of the same FIR represented by separate counsels. Incidentally both the petitions got listed before the same bench which appalled the judge stating that there was a high chance of the two petitions being listed before separate benches and it would have led to grave abuse of the judicial process of the court.
Cr MP (M) No. 1303 of 2020– It was stated in the Court that the present petition was filed at the instance of a local lawyer. It was instituted through an email on 04-08-2020 on a Power of Attorney signed by the petitioner with endorsement of the Assistant Superintendent Jail, Lala Lajpat Rai District & Open Air Correctional Home, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, dated 14-07-2020. This petition was represented by Mr. Vijendra Katoch.
Cr. MP (M) No.1321 of 2020– It was stated in the Court that the present petition was filed at the instance of the relatives of the petitioner. It was also instituted through an e-mail on 06-08-2020. It was also on the power of attorney signed by the petitioner with the endorsement of the same Assistant Superintendent Jail, Lala Lajpat Rai District & Open Air Correctional Home, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, dated 30-07-2020. This petition was represented by Mr. Gobind Korla.
Both these petitions, i.e. Cr. MP (M) Nos. 1303 of 2020 and 1321 of 2020, were listed on 06-8-2020 and 07-8-2020, respectively and incidentally before the same court. Resultantly, both the above petitions were ordered to be listed together on 20-08-2020 which on the said listed date was represented by two different counsels having separate instructions to represent the case.
The disclosure regarding at whose instance two Power of Attorney (POA) was given could not be obtained. It was also noticed that the Assistant Superintendent Jail did not maintain any record for the same but endorsed, attested and issued two separate POA’s.
The Court expressed its disapproval over the manner in which simultaneously two bail petitions were filed before the Court and recorded its indignation. The Court chose not to take action against the accused but gave a stern warning to the bail petitioner to not indulge in such activities on the request of the counsel and amicus curiae present in the case.
However, the court laid down certain directions to evade future incidents like this:
- It is necessary that the status report filed by the State should reflect details of all previous bail petitions filed by the petitioner irrespective of the fact whether the same were eventually withdrawn by him or not.
- Status reports should also clearly indicate the criminal history of the accused persons involved in the FIR, as available with the investigating agency. Director-General of Police, Himachal Pradesh was directed to issue necessary orders in this regard to all authorities concerned and ensure compliance.
- Maintenance of record with respect to the execution of power of attorneys by the persons in custody is essential not only to avoid situations like the present one, but also to prevent mischief which may be caused to the accused in custody.
- It was directed to all Jail Superintendents to maintain proper records with respect to identification of the person at whose instance the power of attorney of the person in custody are being attested and endorsed by the Jail Superintendents.
- The record should contain details of name/address/Aadhar Card detail/telephone numbers/ relation with the accused/purpose for obtaining power of attorney etc. The Director-General of Prisons & Correctional Services, Himachal Pradesh was directed to issue necessary orders in this regard to all the Jail Superintendents and ensure compliance.
- It was directed to try and evolve a software wherein filing of more than one bail petition in this Court by the same petitioner during pendency of previous bail petition, arising out of the same FIR can be detected and consequent steps can be taken at the threshold.
In the instant case, Court granted bail observing that the trial of the case will take sufficient time and the petitioner cannot be kept behind the bars for an indefinite period.
In view of the above, the petition was disposed off. [Sunil Kumar v. State of HP, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 1334, decided on 31 08-2020]
Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together