HM Journal

Material Circumstances such as Seriousness, Gravity of Crime and Role of the Accused to be Considered while Granting Bail

Facts:

The current appeal was filed by the deceased’s son, Daansingh, who was the Sarpanch of the village. Due to a prior enmity between the accused and the deceased, the accused’s husband, along with certain other members of his family and sharpshooters, shot at Daansingh in September 2015, but Daansingh survived. The accused-respondent was arrested and charged after an FIR was filed under Section 307 of the IPC. Daansingh’s testimony was to be recorded at the criminal trial, but he was murdered on September 11, 2017, just a fortnight before it was to be recorded. An FIR was filed for offences punishable by Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 341, 307, 302 and 336 of the IPC, as well as Sections 3/25 and 4/25 of the Arms Act 1959, and the accused was arrested on October 3, 2017. The High Court granted the fifth bail application while noting that the respondent was a woman who had been imprisoned for three and a half years and no overt act could be assigned to her in the instant case.

Issues:

  • Whether an overt act could be assigned to the second respondent in the commission of the crime?
  • Whether the order of the High Court in granting the fifth bail application could be upheld?

Appellant’s contentions:

The appellant’s counsel argued that the High Court erred in proceeding on the basis that no overt act was attributed to the second respondent because the charge-sheet, which was submitted after investigation, shows that the second respondent was using as many as four sim cards and was in constant contact with the co-accused who was hired as a sharpshooter and was the custodian of the weapons used in the crime. The High Court specifically stated in its order dated September 8, 2020, that the second respondent was not cooperating in the investigation of the case. Four previous bail applications had been denied, and there had been no change in circumstances to warrant the grant of bail; the second respondent and provided information about the deceased’s location to the sharpshooter; and even the appellant’s brother, Gopal Singh, was assaulted shortly before his testimony was to be recorded.

Respondent’s contentions:

According to the respondents’ counsel, there has been a clear over-inclusion of family members in the FIR because as many as six people are alleged to have shot at the deceased while only two bullets were recovered. Two of the people named in the FIR have not been charged; (iv) the second respondent is sixty years old and was released on bail after being detained for three years and ten months; Out of 58, 28 witnesses have been examined, and the trial is expected to take some time; and Anek Singh, with whom the second respondent is alleged to have been in contact, is her son, while the alleged sharpshooter is a relative and hence there would be nothing untoward in their contact.

Findings and Observation of the Court:

The High Court’s order was set aside by the Supreme Court on the grounds that:

  • The High Court did not take into consideration the gravity and seriousness of the crime and the role of the second respondent in the crime.
  • The deceased was due to testify in the previous case under Section 307 of the IPC and the murder was committed a fortnight before the date of deposition
  • There was no change in the circumstances as the High Court rejected four bail applications.
  • There was a failure on part of the High Court in considering material circumstances of the case while granting bail to the second respondent.

Judgement Analysis: The Court observed that the accused was denied bail by the High Court on April 6, 2018, September 5, 2019, and September 8, 2020, when the Court observed that the accused was not cooperating in the investigation while dismissing the fourth bail application. The final report filed under Section 173 of the CrPC revealed that the accused was using up to four sim cards and engaged in contact with one of the sharpshooters hired to commit the crime. She was also the custodian of the weapons stored at the rental premises where she resided. Thus, the Court observed that there was an obvious error on the part of the High Court in concluding that no overt or specific act could be attributed to the second respondent with respect to the commission of the crime. It was further held that the High Court had failed to notice material circumstances concerning the grant of bail to the second respondent and had proceeded to do so on an erroneous basis, thus setting aside the High Court’s order.

Opinion:  In my opinion, the Supreme Court rightfully dismissed the bail application of the second respondent as the High Court made an incorrect finding that no overt act was attributed to the second respondent, despite the fact that the final report under Section 173 CrPC clearly indicated her role in the commission of the crime and this was further substantiated by her was communication with one of the sharpshooters hired to commit the crime while using four SIM cards and providing information about the deceased’s movements to the killers which prove she had an active role in the commission of the crime.

Court Name: Supreme Court of India

Judgement Name: Bhoopendra v. the State of Rajasthan

Judgement DateOctober 29, 2021

Judges Bench- Dr Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud, B.V. Nagarathna JJ.

 Writer name: Anuthama Chandrasekhar

College Name: SASTRA DEEMED UNIVERSITY

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