Madhya Pradesh High Court: Prolonged Pre-Trial Detention Will Violate the Concept of Liberty

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The applicant was arrested for committing certain offences punishable under IPC. The Court had dismissed on merits, applicant’s first application for bail. Later, the Court perused the record of the case and considering the fact that due to Covid-19 pandemic, the trial couldn’t be concluded in the near future, the second application for bail was allowed.

Background

The applicant had been arrested by Police Station- Janakganj, Gwalior for committing offences punishable under Sections 302307 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act.

Allegations against the applicant were that the applicant along with co-accused persons had come at the parental house of Poonam (deceased), where the co-accused- Arvind had demanded jewellery and when she had refused to give the same, the present applicant and other co- accused persons had instigated Arvind to shoot her and he then fired gun shot from a pistol, which had hit left side of stomach of deceased- Poonam.

Thereafter, the applicant and other co-accused persons had fled away from the spot. During treatment, Poonam had died on 31/05/2019. Based on such allegations, crime was registered against the present applicant.

The applicant’s first application was dismissed on merits by this Court vide an order dated 20/02/2020. Hence, the applicant had filed this second application under Section 439 of Cr.P.C. for grant of bail.

Submissions before the Court

Applicant’s Submissions

Learned counsel for the applicant submitted that the present applicant was the father-in-law of the deceased, had no criminal past alleged against him. It was contended that he had been falsely implicated in the present case, as he was not concerned with it directly or indirectly.

It was also submitted that the charge-sheet had been filed and no further custodial interrogation was thus, required. Stated that, prosecution witnesses had yet not been examined. Trial was held up due to COVID-19 pandemic and therefore, the applicant cannot be kept in custody for such a long period, without any substantial reason. 

It was further submitted by the learned counsel for the applicant that the co-accused- Narendra had already been enlarged on bail by this Court vide an order dated 23/09/2020 and thus, the applicant claimed parity with him. It was asserted that he will abide by all the terms and conditions as may be imposed by the Court. Under such circumstances, the applicant had prayed for grant of bail.

Respondent’s Submissions

Learned counsel for the rival parties were also heard. Learned Panel Lawyer for the State as well as Counsel for the complainant were not in favour of allowing the present application. They had prayed for its rejection and contended that on the basis of the allegations and material available on record, no case for grant of bail could be made out.

Court’s Observations

The Court considered the overall facts and circumstances of the case. It had also considered the fact that trial was not likely to conclude in near future and also prolonged pre-trial detention will prove to be an anathema to the concept of liberty.

It had further taken into consideration that the learned counsel for the applicant had volunteered to deposit an amount of Rs.5,000/- in the account of the High Court Bar Association, Gwalior.

Court’s Directions

In light of the submissions put forth by both the parties, the Court was inclined to grant bail to the applicant and the application was allowed.

The Court directed that the applicant shall be released on bail only on furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.50,000/-. The applicant will also have to furnish a written undertaking before the concerned Court that he would abide by all the terms and conditions of orders issued by the Government and local administration from time to time such as maintaining social distancing, hygiene etc. to avoid proliferation of Corona virus.

It had also been made clear that the benefit of bail shall be extended to the applicant only on depositing an amount of Rs.5,000/- in the account of the High Court Bar Association, Gwalior for the assistance and rehabilitation of those members of the Bar, who had been facing financial distress due to restrictive functioning of the Courts owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Further, it was directed that this order will remain operative subjected to various conditions, like the applicant will have to cooperate in the investigation/trial, he shall not leave India without prior permission of the trial Court/Investigating Officer. The applicant shall not commit any other offence during pendency of the trial, otherwise the bail order shall stand cancelled automatically.

Click here to read the judgment


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