Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of MR Shah and bela M. Trivedi, JJ assembled on Saturday to hear the appeal against the Bombay High Court’s verdict discharging former Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, along with 5 others, who was convicted by Trial Court under Sections 13, 18, 20, 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 read with Section 120-B of the IPC. The Court has suspended the Bombay High Court judgment till further order.

Bombay High Court’s order

The accused was discharged by the High Court on the ground that, at the time of taking cognizance and/or framing the charge, there was no sanction to prosecute him at all.

State’s Submissions

Looking into the seriousness and gravity of the offences, a detailed scrutiny is required as the High Court has not at all dealt with and/or considered anything on merits.

Further, the application filed by the accused in question to suspend the sentence under Section 389 Cr.P.C. was specifically rejected by the High Court in the year 2020 including on the medical ground.

Accused’s submissions

The accused is 55 years old; he was a professor in the University; he has a family staying in Delhi; his medical condition is such that he is required to be released on bail; that he is on wheel-chair.

On 04.04.2016, the Supreme Court had specifically observed that a case is made out for bail considering his medical condition. Hence, he may be released on bail on any condition that may be imposed by the Court looking to his medical condition.

Supreme Court’s order

The Court thought that this was a fit case to exercise powers under Section 390 Cr.P.C. and to suspend the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court for the following reasons:

  1. The accused are convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 13, 18, 20, 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 read with Section 120-B of the IPC by the trial Court, after detailed analysis of the evidences on record and on re-appreciation of the entire evidences on record;
  2. The offences for which the accused were convicted by the trial Court are very serious and if ultimately they are tested by the High Court on merits and on merits the State succeeds and the judgment and order passed by the learned trial Court is upheld, the offences are very serious against the sovereignty and integrity of the country;
  3. The High Court has not at all dealt with and considered anything on the merits of the judgment and order passed by the trial Court;
  4. The High Court has discharged the accused Nos. 1-5 only on the ground that the sanction was invalid, mainly on the ground that some material which was placed before the appropriate authority at the time of sanction/review were placed were available on the very day and that no reasons are given while granting sanction. The same is required to be considered in detail considering provision of Section 465 Cr.P.C. So far as GN Saibaba is concerned, he has been discharged on the ground that there was no sanction the day on which the learned trial Court took cognizance and even famed the charge. However, the same question is required to be considered in detail.

On the question of releasing the accused on bail on medical ground, the Supreme Court took note of Bombay High Court’s order dated 28.07.2020 wherein the bail plea was dismissed/rejected by a detailed order as except for narrating the ailments said to be suffered by him, no further details were given. It was also noted that appropriate medical aid was being provided to him.

Hence, the Supreme Court was of the firm opinion that the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court was required to be suspended.

[State of Maharashtra v. Mahesh Kariman Tirki, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1430, order dated 15.10.2022]


For State: SG Tushar Mehta,

For GN Saibaba: Senior Advocate R. Basant

medical grounds
Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Adopting a humanitarian approach, the 3-judges Bench comprising Uday Umesh Lalit, Aniruddha Bose, and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ., had granted permanent bail to Bhima Koregaon accused, Dr. P. Varavara Rao solely on medical grounds.

The appellant, Dr. P. Varavara Rao, presently 82 years of age, was kept in house arrest on 28-08-2018, whereafter he was taken into regular custody on 17-11-2018 in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence.

What Happened in Bhima Koregaon?

On January 1, 1818, a Dalit-dominated British Army defeated a Peshwa army, led by Peshwa Bajirao II, in Koregaon. The battle attained a legendary stature for Dalits, who consider the win as a victory of the Dalits against the injustices perpetuated by the Peshwas.

2018 marked the 200th year of battle and hence there was a larger gathering at Bhima Koregaon. During the celebrations there were violent clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups, resulting in the death of at least one person and injuries to several others.

Tensions had started simmering on December 29, 2017, the day Govind Gopal Mahar’s memorial was found desecrated. The incident found mention in the Elgar Parishad, a big public conference organised by Dalit and Bahujan groups on December 31, 2017. Police had alleged that inflammatory speeches were made in the event and that led to the violence the next day.1

Earlier Bail Orders

Earlier, by the order in P. Varavara Rao v. National Investigation Agency (Cr. A. No.52 of 2021), dated 22-02-2021, the Bombay High Court had released the appellant on bail for a period of six months on the medical condition. However, liberty was granted to apply for extension depending upon his health condition supported by medical reports. Subsequently, the appellant had preferred Interim Application No.2018 of 2021 seeking an extension of the facility of bail granted earlier on the medical condition.

By the impugned order in P. Varavara Rao v. National Investigation Agency (W.P. No. 461 of 2022), dated 13-04-2022, the Bombay High Court had extended the period only for three months on the same terms and conditions as were set out in the earlier order. That extended period came to an end on or about 12-07-2022.

Meanwhile, the appellant preferred the instant special leave to appeal on 20-06-2022, wherein the Supreme Court had, by an ad-interim order, extended the period of bail which continued on the date of instant order.

Medical Complications

The Court noted the observations made by the Bombay High Court on its order dated 22-02-2021, wherein the certain medical condition of the appellant were culled out in paragraph 72 of the order:

  • “The undertrial is aged 82 years and he suffers from pre-existing health ailments i.e. piles, prostate enlargement, coronary artery disease, Oedema/Ansarca (swelling of feet), Hypertension, Sinusitis, Migraine and Vertigo.

  • The medical papers pertaining to the stay of the undertrial in the J.J. Hospital in July 2020 show that he had to be admitted due to deterioration of health, electrolyte imbalance as a result which he was showing signs of delirium. He was bleeding from rectum and he had Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) causing urinary inconvenience and loss of control of urination.

  • The undertrial suffered a fall from bed due to which he suffered a cut on his forehead, which had to be stitched/sutured. He had difficulty in walking and he was disoriented.

  • The undertrial was found to be Covid-19 positive due to which he was shifted to the St. George’s Hospital, wherein it was recorded that the undertrial was suffering from delirium and perhaps dementia, requiring treatment for electrolyte imbalance and other ailments noted above.

  • The medical reports between 19-07-2020 and 27-08-2020 consistently showed that he was talking in an irrelevant manner and was showing signs of delirium and suffering from tremors.

  • That there were only three Ayurvedic Practitioners in the Taloja Central Prison Hospital with no nursing staff and that the undertrial prisoners were being asked to perform the task of attendants in respect of ailing inmates like the undertrial before this Court.

  • That due to UTI, the catheter had to be used which was not removed for about three months, leading to complications.”

The Court further recorded that medical data revealed that the appellant is suffering from brain atrophy, age-related cerebral cortical atrophy along with hypertension with BPH with recurrent hyponatremia, and recurrent urinary tract infection.

Rival Contentions of the Parties

Mr. Anand Grover, Senior Advocate for the appellant submitted that considering the age of the appellant and the ailments he suffered from; and the fact that his condition had not improved but had deteriorated to a certain extent, the condition regarding surrender be deleted and permanent bail be granted to the appellant. He further contended that the release of the appellant on bail ought not to be limited in point of time but may be granted permanently without fixing any such condition.

Contesting the permanent grant of bail, the National Investigation Agency submitted that the material on record showed the involvement of the appellant in a deep-rooted conspiracy and as such, going by the letter and spirit of Section 43-D (5) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 the appellant should not be entitled to the relief of bail.

Relying on Union of India v. K.A. Najeeb, (2021) 3 SCC 713, the counsel for the appellant contended that the presence of statutory restrictions like Section 43-D(5) of the UAPA per se does not oust the ability of the constitutional courts to grant bail on grounds of violation of Part III of the Constitution. Both the restrictions under a statute as well as the powers exercisable under constitutional jurisdiction can be well harmonised. Whereas at commencement of proceedings, the courts are expected to appreciate the legislative policy against grant of bail but the rigours of such provisions will melt down where there is no likelihood of trial being completed within a reasonable time and the period of incarceration already undergone has exceeded a substantial part of the prescribed sentence.

Observations and Directions

Considering the aforesaid, the Court culled out the following factual aspects:

  • “The appellant is 82 years of age.

  • He was taken in custody initially on 28-08-2018 and has actually spent 2½ years of custody, leaving aside the period for which benefit of bail was granted pursuant to the order dated 22.02.2021.

  • Though the charge-sheet has been filed, some of the accused are still not apprehended and the matter has not even been taken up for consideration whether the charges need to be framed against the accused who are presently before the Trial Court or not.

  • Various applications preferred by the accused seeking discharge are still pending consideration.

  • The medical condition of the appellant has not improved to such an extent, over a period of time, that the facility of bail which was granted earlier be withdrawn.”

Hence, the Court held that the appellant was entitled to the relief of permanent bail on medical grounds. Therefore, the Court granted bail to the appellant by deleting the condition placed in the Order dated 22-02-2021 limiting the relief in terms of time. The Bail is subject to the following conditions:

  • The appellant shall not leave the area of Greater Mumbai without express permission from the Trial Court.

  • The appellant shall not in any way misuse his liberty nor shall he get in touch with any of the witnesses or try to influence the course the of investigation.

  • Any infraction of the conditions shall entail in cancellation of bail granted to the appellant.

  • The appellant shall be entitled to have the medical attention of his choice but shall keep the respondent authorities in touch with any such development including the medical attention received by him.

  • It is made clear that the benefit of bail is extended to the appellant only on his medical condition.

Lastly, the Court directed the appellant to approach the Trial Court within seven days with advance intimation to the Public Prosecutor. On such representation, the Trial Court was asked to release of the appellant on permanent bail, on medical grounds, subject to such conditions as the Trial Court may deem appropriate to impose.

[P. Varavara Rao v. National Investigation Agency, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1004, decided on 10-08-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Anand Grover, Senior Advocate, for the Appellant;

S.V. Raju, Additional Solicitor General, Advocate, for the Respondents.


*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.


1. https://www.business-standard.com/about/what-is-bhima-koregaon-case

Himachal Pradesh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

   

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Vivek Singh Thakur, J. dismissed the petition filed under Sec 482 Criminal Procedure Code (‘CrPC') for extension of parole as the right remedy is under Article 226 of Constitution of India.

The instant petition was filed under Section 482 CrPC seeking extension of term of parole granted to the petitioner on medical grounds.

The Court noted that grant of parole to a convict/prisoner is governed by provision of H.P. Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Act, 1968 and Rules framed thereunder.

The Court observed that omission or commission on the part of concerned authority in granting or rejecting the claim of a prisoner under H.P. Good Conduct Prisoners (Temporary Release) Rules, 1968 is an administrative action, but not an action governed by provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure or any other Criminal Law and therefore instead of filing petition under Section 482 CrPC, a petition under Article 226 of Constitution of India shall be maintainable.

The Court thus dismissed the petition with liberty to file a fresh comprehensive petition and directed the Authority not to take any coercive action till 15-07-2022.

[Mohd. Margoob v. State of HP, Criminal Misc. Petition (Main) No. 470 of 2022, decided on 21-06-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

Vinod Kumar, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Hemant Vaid, Advocate, for the Respondent.


*Arunima Boase, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.