Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Raja Vijayaraghavan V., J. was allowed a criminal petition filed by persons accused of smuggling gold and foreign currency, by concealing the same in their checked-in baggage at the Cochin International Airport, and set aside onerous conditions for their bail.

Petitioners’ voluntary statement was recorded by the Superintendent of Customs, Air Intelligence Unit, Cochin and they were placed under arrest for offence under Sections 132 and 135 of the Customs Act, 1962 which are non-cognizable and bailable offences. Being bailable offences, the customs officer, exercising his powers under Section 104 (3) of the Customs Act, granted them bail on the following conditions:

  • Two persons to stand surety, on whose behalf the petitioner/accused shall be released on bail.
  • Petitioners shall report to the Superintendent of Customs, Air Intelligence Unit, Nedumbassery on the 10th day of every month between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. until the case was finally decided.
  • Petitioners shall report to the investigating officer as and when required.
  • Petitioners shall not, during the period of bail, get involved in any offence.

Premjith Menon, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the offences being bailable, petitioners could claim to be released on bail as of right. He submitted that under Section 104 of the Customs Act, for the purpose of releasing an arrested person on bail, a customs officer is subject to the same provisions as the officer-in-charge of a police station and thus except the requirement of surety, the imposition of other conditions for bail was illegal.

The Court opined that grant of bail is a matter of course in respect of bailable offences. It may be given either by the police officer in charge of a police station having the accused in his custody or by the Court. The customs officer exercising his powers under Section 104 of the Act, acts akin to officer-in-charge of a police station as provided under Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A police officer or even the Court has no discretion in releasing the accused on bail under Section 436 CrPC, and any condition except the demand for security with sureties cannot be imposed on the accused. Reliance in this regard was placed on Talab Haji Hussain v. Madhukar Purshottam Mondkar, AIR 1958 SC 376.

In view of the above, petitioners were enlarged on bail and it was held that the customs officer was bereft of jurisdiction to impose onerous conditions for the same. The three conditions for bail except that of surety were set aside.[Joseph Santhosh Kottarathil Alexander v. Superintendent of Customs (AIU), 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1321, decided on 09-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. allowed a petition for extension of parole subject to the conditions of, inter alia, furnishing a personal bond with one surety.

The petitioner sought grant of parole already granted to him by the Competent Authority. The parole was granted to enable the petitioner to file a special leave petition which was further extended for a period of two weeks. the ground taken by the petitioner for seeking grant of parole was that his wife was suffering from a skin disease who was admitted in a hospital and they had two minor children. The status report filed verified the fact stated by the petitioner. The Additional Public Prosecutor for the State submitted that mother of the petitioner lived in the vicinity. The petitioner submitted that his mother being a senior citizen was not in a position to take care of the minor children and attend to his wife.

The High Court, keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, granted the petitioner parole for a period of three weeks. However, it imposed the conditions of furnishing a personal bond of Rs 4000 with one surety of the like amount. Also, the petitioner was directed to maintain peace and good behaviour during the period of his release and remain at his residential address. The petition was disposed of in terms above. [Raj Kumar v. State,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12193, dated 31-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single judge bench comprising of B.A. Patil, J. while hearing a criminal petition under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 allowed anticipatory bail of the petitioner since there was no material against him in the case.

Brief factual background of the matter was that a complaint was filed by one Ravishankar alleging that the petitioner herein had created fake documents and committed offences punishable under the company law. On a complaint filed by Ravishankar, police completed its investigation and filed a report on the basis of which summons were issued to the accused petitioner. The petitioner challenged the said investigation report.

Counsel for the petitioner pleaded that there were no specific allegations against the petitioner and no material against him on record. It was also contended that livelihood of the petitioner was in France and he regularly shuttled between India and France. In such a scenario if the present petition is not allowed, it would adversely affect his livelihood. Further, he was ready to abide by any terms and conditions that may be imposed on him by the Court and was also ready to offer surety, if released on bail.

Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, the petition was allowed by Court with a direction that the petitioner be released on anticipatory bail in the event of his arrest, subject to execution of a bond of Rs 2 lakh along with other conditions such as that of appearance in court when needed and non-tampering of prosecution evidence. [Sanjeev Rao v. State, Criminal Petition No. 5668 of 2018, decided on 03-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: In the order passed by Prashant Kumar Mishra, J., addressed a criminal petition filed on the basis of Paper Under Disposal (PUD) referred by the District & Sessions Judge Bilaspur, seeking guidelines on certain difficulties faced by the trial Judges on the presentation of forged sureties to obtain bail and release order on the basis of forged revenue papers or by impersonating the real surety. The Court modified its order that made Aadhaar card of the accused as well as surety mandatory before obtaining bail. Now the surety can submit any document of identification like voter ID, PAN, passport.

The brief facts being that the applicant stood surety in the Court of Special Judge by impersonating some other person to obtain a bail or release order, which happened to be true when investigated and verified by the Tahsildar concerned and subsequently the Court of Special Judge had lodged a report against the applicant for offences under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860.

The learned counsel gave their inputs on the above subject-matter that this has become a frequent practice, which needs to be nipped in the bud and to be controlled and regulated before it reaches enormous proportion and hence prayed to the Court to direct the trial courts to ensure obtaining papers of identification at the time of approving the surety documents for issuance of release warrants.

The Court referring to the Supreme Court judgment in Moti Ram v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1978) 4 SCC 47 added that the submission of Aadhar Card may not be made mandatory. Objection has also been raised to the condition where this Court has put a bar that, one surety cannot stand in more than two cases by introducing Section 441-A as introduced by Act No. 25 of 2005, w.e.f 23.06.2006 which the presiding officer shall strictly follow.

Further, the learned counsel who have suggested modification made a common pitch for immediate release of the accused after the submission of surety papers making the process of verification subsequent to the release within a particular time frame.

The Court held that the directions in substitution of the previous directions issued in paragraph 10 of the order dated 05.01.2018 passed in M.CrC No. 3957 of 2017 shall be followed and that after doing so the Presiding Officer shall certify in the order sheet of the case that the verification of the papers/documents has been done in accordance with the order passed by this Court. [Ved Prakash Gupta v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2018 SCC OnLine Chh 75, decided on 01-02-2018]