Kerala HC: Bail Granted cannot be cancelled just because Accused booked in another case8 min read
Published on: 05 March 2023 at 19″29 IST
While ruling very decisively on a very significant legal point pertaining to the lodging of subsequent case against accused and its impact on bail granted in an earlier case, the Kerala High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Renjith v. State of Kerala in Crl. MC No. 854 of 2023 Crime No. 31/2022 of Guruvayoor Police Station, Thrissur Against Crl.M.P. 3394/2022 in C.C. 1104/2022 of Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Chavakkad that came up for admission on February 23, 2023 and then was pronounced as recently as on March 3, 2023 has been very categorical in holding unequivocally that the bail granted in one crime cannot be cancelled merely because the accused has been subsequently booked in another case.
Most pragmatically, we see that the Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas minced just no words to observe unequivocally that a bail that had once been granted ought not to be cancelled on the mere asking, but that there ought to be cogent and overwhelming circumstances existing to cancel the bail. Very rightly so!
At the very outset, this remarkable, refreshing, rational and recent judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Mr Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 stipulating that, “Should the bail granted in one crime be cancelled merely because the accused had, in alleged violation of the conditions of bail, got himself entangled in a subsequent crime? The above question arises for resolution in the instant case.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 2 that, “Petitioner is an accused in C.C. No.1104 of 2022 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate’s Court, Chavakkad, which arises from Crime No.31 of 2022 of Guruvayoor Police Station, Thrissur (hereafter referred to as the ‘first crime’),”.
“The prosecution alleges that on 12.01.2022, petitioner had attacked the defacto complainant in front of a temple at Guruvayoor and caused grievous hurt and also stole her mobile phone and thus committed the offences punishable under sections 341, 323, 324, 325, 394 and 201 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.”
As it turned out, the Bench then observes in para 3 that, “After petitioner was taken into custody on 23.05.2022, he was granted bail on 02.06.2022. One of the conditions imposed by the learned Magistrate, while granting bail was that petitioner should not involve in any other crime while on bail,”.
“Later, petitioner was arrayed as an accused in Crime No.1072/2022 of Thrissur Town West Police Station (hereafter referred to as the ‘second crime’) alleging offences punishable under sections 294(b), 323, 308, 354 and 354A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860,”.
“The allegations in the second crime include displaying his nudity before a lady and brandishing a chopper in an attempt to commit culpable homicide and shouting obscene words on a public road. Petitioner has been granted bail in the second crime also.”
As we see, the Bench then points out in para 4 that, “In the meantime, a petition was filed through the Prosecutor to cancel the bail granted in the first crime due to his involvement in the second crime in violation of the conditions of bail. By the impugned order, the learned Magistrate cancelled the bail due to his involvement in the subsequent crime.”
Be it noted, the Bench then notes in para 7 stating that, “Section 437 of Cr.P.C provides for grant of bail to a person accused of a non-bailable offence when produced before a court other than the High Court or Court of Sessions. The said statutory provision also confers power upon the court to impose conditions,”.
“In the exercise of such a power, the learned Magistrate while granting bail imposed a condition that ‘petitioner shall not involve in any other crime while on bail’. It is pertinent to note that final report has been filed in the said case and the case is now pending as C.C. No.1104 of 2022 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate’s Court, Chavakkad. Though petitioner was arrested on 07.11.2022 for the second crime, he was granted regular bail for the said crime on 14.12.2022.”
Of course, the Bench then states in para 8 that, “The bail granted to the petitioner in the first crime was cancelled by the learned Magistrate by the impugned order after coming to the conclusion that the accused had misused his liberty by indulging in another criminal activity and had therefore violated the bail conditions.”
Quite significantly, the Bench then mandates in para 9 holding that, “Bail once granted ought not to be cancelled for the mere asking. There must be cogent and overwhelming circumstances existing to cancel the bail which should not be resorted to in a mechanical manner also,”.
“In a recent decision in P v. Madhya Pradesh and Another (2022 SCC OnLine SC 552) the Supreme Court considered the circumstances when bail could be cancelled. One of the conditions for cancelling the bail has been succinctly stated to be that if he misuses his liberty by indulging in similar or other criminal activity.”
Do note, the Bench then explicitly notes in para 10 that, “Despite the above, is the bail granted to the petitioner liable to be cancelled because later, an FIR is registered against him? In the decision in Imran v. Muhammed Bhava [2022 SCC Online SC 496] it has been held that certain supervening circumstances impeding a fair trial must develop after granting bail to an accused for its cancellation. After referring to the above decisions, the Supreme Court in the decision in P. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (supra) observed that cancellation of bail already granted would indeed require significant scrutiny.”
It would be instructive to note that the Bench then expounds in para 11 noting that, “The mere registration of a subsequent crime against the accused by itself cannot result in an automatic cancellation of bail. Registration of a subsequent crime is only an indication of an allegation or a complaint of the accused having been involved in a subsequent crime,”.
“The presumption of innocence available to the accused in the second crime, the right to liberty as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which envelopes every provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure are factors which cannot be forgotten by the Court when called upon to cancel the bail,”.
“The possibility of false accusations being alleged with oblique motives also cannot be ignored. The nature of the subsequent offence and the persons against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed, the stage of the case wherein cancellation is sought are also factors that require appreciation,”.
“Apart from the above, while arriving at the conclusion to cancel the bail, the Court must also consider whether the accused had misused the liberty granted in such a manner that it has a tendency to interfere with the due course of the administration of justice,”.
“Thus, every case presents a unique situation and close scrutiny ought to be indulged in to identify whether overwhelming circumstances are indeed present in the subsequent crime which necessitates the cancellation of bail earlier granted.”
While citing the relevant case law, the Bench lays down in para 12 that, “As held in Dolat Ram and Others v. State of Haryana [(1995) 1 SCC 349] very cogent and overwhelming circumstances are necessary to cancel the bail already granted and that bail once granted should not be cancelled in a mechanical manner without considering whether the supervening circumstances have rendered it no longer conducive to a fair trial to allow the accused to retain his freedom by enjoying the concession of bail during the trial.”
Broadly speaking, the Bench while referring to other recent, remarkable and relevant case laws hastens to add in para 13 stating that, “In this context, it is appropriate to refer to two recent decisions of this Court. In Godson v. State of Kerala [2022 (2) KLD 447] a learned Single Judge of this Court had observed that a mere violation of the bail conditions is not sufficient to cancel the bail but the satisfaction of the court that it is necessary to do so based on various factors have to be arrived at,”.
“However, another learned Single Judge in Sreeja Mannangath v. State of Kerala [2022 (7) KLD 109], relying upon the decision in P. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (supra), cancelled the bail after observing that the accused had misused his liberty by violating one of the conditions of bail,”.
“In Sreeja’s case (supra), the accused is alleged to have involved in a subsequent crime against the defacto complainant in the earlier crime itself, in violation of the specific condition not to do so. The conclusion arrived at in Sreeja’s case (supra) is based on the facts therein and cannot apply to the present situation,”.
“Further, the decision in P. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (supra) does not imply that on violation of any of the conditions of bail, there should be an automatic cancellation. The said decision has not diluted the principles laid down in Dolat Ram’s case (supra) and on the other hand, specifically observes that there must be a significant scrutiny before bail is cancelled.”
Most significantly and as a corollary, the Bench then mandates in para 14 holding that, “With the above principles in mind, when the circumstances of the present case are appreciated, it can be noticed that the learned Magistrate had, in exercise of the discretion to grant bail, released the petitioner on bail even in the second crime,”.
“Still, the petitioner has remained in jail for the last more than two months. Though the allegation as regards the second crime is serious, taking into reckoning the contention that the petitioner has been falsely implicated and the absence of any injury on any person and the general allegation that the accused attempted to commit culpable homicide by brandishing a sword in a public road, this Court is of the view that the second crime cannot be treated as overwhelming enough to impede fair trial in the first crime for cancelling the bail already granted,”.
“Further, the final report in the crime in which bail was sought to be cancelled was filed much earlier and there is no allegation that the petitioner had misused his liberty against the defacto complainant therein.”
Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 15 that, “Thus, despite the registration of the subsequent crime against the petitioner, having regard to the nature of allegations, this Court is of the view that the order cancelling the bail granted to the petitioner ought to be interfered with,”.
“Accordingly, the order dated 19.01.2023 in Crl.M.P. No.3394 of 2022 in C.C. No.1104 of 2022 on the files of the Judicial First Class Magistrate’s Court, Chavakkad is set aside. The petitioner shall be released from custody forthwith, if not required in any other case. This Crl.M.C is allowed as above.”
In a nutshell, we thus see that the Kerala High Court has really been quite analytical in forwarding some most rational reasons alongwith relevant case laws as discussed hereinabove that mere registration of subsequent case against accused by itself cannot result in automatic cancellation of bail in earlier case.
It merits no reiteration that all the courts must definitely pay heed to what the Kerala High Court has laid down so elegantly, eloquently and effectively in this leading case. No denying it!