HM Journal

discretionary power of a court to grant bail and the principles for granting or refusing the bail

Court: Supreme Court of India

Judgement Name: Harjit Singh v. Inderpreet Singh @ Inder and another 

Judgement Date: 24th August, 2021

Bench: D.Y. Chandrachud , M.R.Shah

Brief Facts of the Case:

  1. The respondents accused Indrerpreet Singh( responder no.1)  had conspiring and orchestrating the death of the petitioner’s father Mann Singh in the current case.
  2. It was established through investigation that the accused had repeatedly threatened late Mann Singh over phone calls, as the deceased  had been pursuing two other cases filed in 2011 and 2020.
  3.  Upon conviction in the previously filed cases the respondent no.1 surrendered however the co- conspirator Jaskaran Singh absconded .The investigation of Mann Singh’s murders led to conclude that  Jaskaran Singh helped orchestrate the murder and the deceased was murdered at the instance of the  respondent no.1.Respondent no.1 is said to have communicated with the co- conspirator through a mobile phone from the central jail.
  4. The investigation of the murder resulted in the filing of a chargesheet. Petition for bail of the respondent no.1 was dismissed by the sessions court . However the High Court through an impugned order released the respondent no.1 .
  5. Aggrieved by such a judgement the petitioner, son of the deceased, has preferred the current appeal. 

Issues in the Case:

  1. The dissatisfaction of the appellant Harjit Singh towards the bail granted to respondent no.1 Inderpreet Singh by the high court of Punjab & Haryana in order dated 18.03.2021 , CRM-M No. 11809 of 2021.

Contentions of the Appellants:

  1. The appellant counsel urged the court that the High Court had not considered the seriousness of the offence , as respondent no.1 was the mind behind the conspiracy. He further said that the motive was not given sufficient gravity . it was pointed out that the court  did not perceive the possible  threat to the complainants family sufficiently .
  2. The respondent no.1 was a habitual offender and had been convicted in 3 other cases when he was on bail granted by the High Court. On previous occasions his bail was cancelled on account of having misused the concession bail. The counsel also stated that such an abuse of bail was very likely in the current scenario.
  3. The counsel also stated that the High Court had failed to consider the material evidence collected during the investigation. The High court had released the habitual offender , one of the grounds being he was behind  for 4-5 months, and this can not be a ground to bail in cases such as murder and destroying evidences.

Contentions of the Respondent:

  1. The counsel representing the respondent no.1 said that the incident took place when the respondent no.1 was in jail and there was no record to show the direct participation of the respondent in the occurrence.
  2. He further urged that the possession of the mobile phone within jail premise by the respondent no.1 was debatable , and was not established sufficiently . There lied a need to prove that the respondent had access to the mobile phone within the jail. The counsel also stated that the respondents involvement in the murder was merely a circumstantial deduction and not a factum.
  3. counsel  submitted that bail granted by court can only be cancelled when certain criteria are met . One such criteria being the misuse of the concession of bail. The respondent no.1 has not misused the bail since the order of the High Court . Hence the counsel urges that there is no grounds for the cancellation of the bail granted.

Judgement :

 Past  decisions of the supreme court were recalled to determine the discretionary power of a court to grant bail and the principles for granting or refusing the bail . Relying of Gudikanti Narasimhulu v. Public Prosecutor, High Court of A.P., (1978) 1 SCC 240, Ash Mohammad v. Shiv Raj Singh, (2012) 9 SCC 446, Ram Govind Upadhyay v. Sudarshan Singh (2002) 3 SCC 598, Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chatterjee (2010) 14 SCC 496 the SC established that every court must consider the following criterias while considering an application for bail.

(i)  Whether there is prima facie ground to believe the accused has committed the crime

(ii)  The severity of the crime committed

(iii) the danger of the accused absconding or influencing the witnesses 

(iv) the character , behaviour and past records of the accused 

( v) the likelihood of the offence being repeated. 

The court also observes that the criteria influencing the appellate court in assessing the correctness of an order granting a bail is different from the grounds to cancel the bail order. The correctness of an order granting bail is tested based on whether there was a proper or arbitrary exercise of the discretion in the grant of bail. It is further observed that the test is whether the order granting bail is perverse, illegal or unjustified.

The court went on to observe that the High court had failed to appreciate the severity of the accusation and the penalty upon conviction. The High court did not address the role of respondent no.1 in pioneering the conspiracy from jail and the possibility  of further violations once released. The respondent has been convicted in four other cases and while on bail had  continued to indulge in similar activities. He was and has repeatedly tried to kill the appellant and his family. Given the aforesaid facts the High court had erred in its decision to grant bail to respondent accused Inderpreet Singh . The court concluded by stating :

the bail granted by the High Court to respondent no.1 herein – Inderpreet Singh in connection with FIR No. 245 dated 21.09.2020 at Police Station Sadar Jalandhar, District Jalandhar for the offences under Sections 302, 120-B, 34, 201 IPC and Section 25 of Arms Act, 1959 is hereby cancelled.

Opinion:

 The appellate court successfully reiterated the long standing need for the application of mind in issuing of bails. It underlined the duty of the court in ensuring justice not only in the present but in future circumstances by highlighting the need to consider the gravity and seriousness of the crime ,as well as the accused’s powers to influence the course of justice when considering a bail application . The judgement was omniscient as it weighed in the material circumstances, without overstepping into the validity of facts of the criminal litigation in question. The court sufficiently defined the difference between the cancellation of a bail and scrutinising the grounds of a bail, addressing the duty of the appellate court towards the High courts. 

Written by: Shreya Shetty, Christ University, 2nd Year.

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/harjit-singh-vs-inderpreet-singh-inder-ll-2021-sc-401-399254.pdf

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