Freedom of individual cannot be curtailed for an indefinite period, especially when guilt is yet to be proved

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]

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