Punjab and Haryana High Court: While Granting Bail, the Conditions Imposed Should be Reasonable and Fair, and Not Onerous

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The petitioner is an accused in a criminal case with 67 FIRs registered against him. The charges against him are under Sections 420, 406, 120B, 204 of Indian Penal Code, and Section 3 of the Haryana Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Act, 2013. The petitioner moved a bail application to the Trial Court under Section 439 of CrPC in FIR no. 113. However, while allowing the bail, the Trial Court imposed a condition. According to the said condition, the petitioner was to furnish security to the tune of Rs. 100 crores. Challenging the said order, the petitioner approached the High Court.

The issue in the present case is whether an onerous condition is reasonable when it is impossible to perform.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The petitioner claimed the condition to be excessive. It amounts to a denial of bail. Furthermore, the conditions of the bail must be reasonable. The phrase “any condition” in Section 439 of CrPC does not mean the conferring of absolute power. The Court cannot impose any condition. The conditions must be ‘reasonable, acceptable in the facts, permissible in the circumstance, and effective in the pragmatic sense’. Otherwise, the accused can never get bail. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the accused is innocent till proven guilty.

State’s Arguments

The state submitted that the conditions are fair, reasonable, and justified in the peculiar circumstances. The accused has allegedly cheated innocent people. Further, charged for siphoning off crores of rupees for personal usage. In the 67 FIRs filed, the alleged siphoning amounts to a total of over Rs. 85 Crores. To that effect, the condition ordering furnishing of surety to the tune of Rs. 100 Crores is justified. Furthermore, the Court decided on the condition on the basis of not only FIR no. 113 but all the remaining 66 FIRs. It is also submitted that the bail order is challenged after a delay of 10 months.

Court’s View

The Court opined that the registration of other FIRs cannot be taken into consideration as a factor for deciding bail application. Moreover, the alleged defrauded amount in FIR no. 113 is Rs. 2.75 Crores. The amount of Rs. 85 Crores were reached by aggregating the amounts in all the FIRs. The Court found that the condition imposed is unreasonable and fatal to bail.

Reliance on precedents

The Court referred to the Apex Court decision in Dataram Singh v. State of U.P. (2018) 3 SCC 22. Therein the Court held that the conditions imposed must not be incapable of compliance. Thereby, making the grant of bail illusory. Further, the Court observed that liberty and law must go hand-in-hand. The law permits the curtailing of liberty. Yet, one cannot curtail liberty on grounds not envisaged by law. The conditions imposed must not be tyrannical.

Moreover, the Court relied on the elementary principles governing bail while deciding. They are as follows:

  1. nature of the offense;
  2. secure availability of accused of trial;
  3. tampering of evidence; and
  4. flight risk worthy of accused.

Moreover, in Sumit Mehta v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2013 (4) RCR (Criminal) (SC), the Court interpreted the words ‘any condition’. Therein, it held that ‘any condition’ cannot be regarded as conferring absolute power to impose any condition. The condition must be reasonable in the facts and circumstances of each case. ‘[A]ny condition’ must be interpreted to mean reasonable condition.

Similarly, reference was made to Rajat Sharma v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2015 (3) JCC 1493. Therein, the Court observed that pre-conviction detention should not be resorted to, except in cases of necessity to secure attendance.

The Court found that the EOW already possesses the passport of the petitioner. Furthermore, it observed that the petitioner was ready to furnish security for the alleged defrauded amount. Hence, the Court found that the condition imposed by the Trial Court as unreasonable.

Court’s Decision

In view of the above reasoning, the Court changed the order. It ordered the petitioner to furnish the security of Rs. 3 Crore. Yet, the order pertained to the FIR No. 113 only. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition.


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