Delhi HC grants statutory bail to accused booked u/s 304 IPC where chargesheet was not filed within 60 days in absence of material to show that he had 'intention of causing death'
Justice Navin Chawla [09-02-2024]
Read Order: SANJAY MORE v. STATE OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR [DEL HC- CRL.M.C. 856/2024]
New Delhi, February 12, 2024: In a case where a man was booked under section 304/34 of the IPC, the Delhi High Court has granted bail to him after noting that the allegations made in the FIR, supplemented by the CCTV Footage and the MLC, did not prima facie show that the petitioner had an 'intention of causing death' of the victim.
The FIR was registered on a complaint received from the father of the deceased stating that the deceased, aged around 23 years, was unemployed and was also a drug addict. On the day of the incident, he came back to his house around 6.30 AM, completely wounded, with blood oozing from his head and nose. He had other injury marks on other parts of his body as well. Upon enquiry, the deceased told to the complainant that he was roaming around a plot in Furniture block when some persons there mistook him to be a thief, and caught hold of him and started beating him with sticks (dandas), legs and fists. They also put something like black paint on him.
The complainant took his son to a local clinic for medicines, however, as the medicines did not work and his condition deteriorated and on the way to the Safdarjung Hospital, unfortunately the deceased died. Based on the above complaint, the petitioner was arrested. As the charge-sheet was not filed in spite of expiry of a period of 60 days of the arrest, the petitioner filed the application under Proviso (a)(ii) to Sec.167(2) of the Cr.P.C., seeking Statutory Bail. The said application was dismissed by the Link Metropolitan Magistrate. The petitioner’s Revision Petition was also dismissed by way of the Impugned Order.
The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla opined took note of the claim of the prosecution that the CCTV Footage which had been shown to me during the course of the hearing, did reflect that the deceased had been tied up and was beaten by at least two persons with sticks (dandas). The nature of the injuries suffered by the deceased has been opined to be sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature. However, the Bench stated that for invoking Section 304-I of the IPC, the prosecution, at this stage, at least has to allege that the injuries were caused with the intention of causing death.
Referring to Section 304 of the IPC which prescribes the punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the Delhi High Court observed, “…where the death is caused by an act “done with the intention of causing death, or of causing such bodily injury as is likely to cause death”, the person committing the culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Where, however, the act is done “with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death, but without any intention to cause death, or to cause such bodily injury as is likely to cause death”, the person committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both.”
The Bench further opined, “It must be remembered that the Statutory Bail is a protection to fundamental rights of personal liberty of the accused. It must therefore, be considered liberally in favour of the accused. Further, the general principle governing criminal jurisprudence is bail not jail.”
Referring to M. Ravindran v. Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence [LQ/SC/2020/740], the Bench opined that if the applicant is charged for an offence under Part I of Section 304 of the IPC, he would be entitled to Statutory Bail under Proviso (a)(i) to Section 167(2) of the Cr.P.C. on expiry of 90 days, however, if he is charged under Part II of Section 304, in terms of Proviso (a)(ii) of Section 167(2) of the Cr.P.C., he shall be entitled to a Statutory Bail on expiry of period of 60 days of his arrest. Though the charge-sheet has been subsequently filed under Part I of Section 304 of the IPC against the petitioner, his entitlement to the Statutory Bail has to be considered as on the date of the expiry of period of 60 days of his arrest.
It was also noted that on the expiry of the period of 60 days from the date of the arrest of the petitioner, the charge-sheet had not been filed. Therefore, till that date, the prosecution had not reached to a conclusion that the FIR/MLC/CCTV Footage and/or the statements recorded till then, made out a case under Section 304-I of the IPC as investigation was still ongoing on that day.
According to the Prosecution, as on the date of filing of the application by the applicant, it has to be presumed that the accused is being investigated for offence under Section 304 Part I of the IPC and not Section 304 Part II of the IPC and, therefore, the investigating agency is required to file the charge-sheet within 60 days of his arrest, and having not filed the same, the accused/applicant having exercised his right to Statutory Bail is entitled to grant of the same.
In the present case, a perusal of the allegations made in the FIR, supplemented by the CCTV Footage and the MLC, did not prima facie show that the petitioner had an 'intention of causing death' of the deceased. Thus, the Bench held that the petitioner was entitled to be released on Statutory Bail in terms of Proviso (a)(ii) to Section 167(2) of the CrPC.
Thus, the Bench directed that the petitioner be released on bail under Sections 304/34 of the IPC, on furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs 25,000.
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