Read Order: Sahil Rathi v. State of Haryana

LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 23, 2022: Relying on the judgment of the Top Court in Maulana Mohd. Amir Rashadi vs. State of U.P. and Another, wherein it was held that merely on the basis of the criminal antecedents, the claim of the respondent cannot be rejected, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has allowed the application for the grant of regular bail to the petitioner who was arraigned as accused in a case involving illegal liquor. 

The Bench of Justice Vikas Bahl came to this conclusion on the basis of the fact that the petitioner was roped in the case based on the disclosure statement of his co-accused and also the fact that even after his arrest no recovery was made. Certain other facts, including grant of bail to his co-accused, were also taken into consideration. 

The Court was dealing with a petition filed under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C. for the grant of regular bail to the petitioner.

This bail plea was in respect of an FIR registered under Sections 61 and 72-F of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914 (Haryana Amendment Bill, 2020) (Sections 72-A-4-20 of the Excise Act, 1914 and Sections 328, 272, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 added later on). 

On the basis of secret information, two persons were apprehended at the spot and illegal liquor was seized from them, while the third accused was able to run away from the spot. 

It was submitted by the Counsel that the petitioner was not named in the FIR nor any recovery was effected from him, rather he was implicated on the basis of the disclosure statement of one of the accused and even after the recording of the said statement, no recovery was effected from the present petitioner. 

Also, it was the case of the Counsel that Amit Khatri, who was also there in the car although he managed to run away, was already granted the concession of regular bail by a coordinate Bench of the Court. Further, the Counsel added that the petitioner was in custody since November 14, 2020 and there were 22 prosecution witnesses and none of them were examined, thus, the trial was likely to take time.

On the other hand, the State Counsel argued that the petitioner was involved in five other cases and that as per the disclosure statement of Sachin, illegal / spurious liquor was being taken from the present petitioner to be sold further. The other facts however, were not disputed.

The Counsel for the petitioner in rebuttal, relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in Maulana Mohd. Amir Rashadi vs. State of U.P. and Another, to contend that the facts and circumstances of the present case are to be seen while deciding a bail application and the bail application of the petitioner cannot be rejected solely on the ground that the petitioner is involved in other cases.

In the above-cited case, the Top Court observed that merely based on his criminal antecedents, the claim of the second respondent cannot be rejected, rather the Court added that it is the duty of the Court to find out the role of the accused in the case in

which he has been charged and other circumstances such as possibility of fleeing away from the jurisdiction of the Court etc.

After considering the submissions of the parties, the Court observed that a perusal of the FIR would show that the petitioner was not named in the FIR and no recovery was effected from him. Further, it was noted that the car in which illegal / spurious liquor was being taken was apprehended and in the said car, the co-accused person, i.e. Sachin was apprehended and another co-accused person Amit son of Krishana, managed to flee from the spot. 

From the bove, the Court was of the view that the petitioner was neither named in the FIR nor was he apprehended at the spot. Also, the factum of the third accused being released on bail, was also considered by the Court while observing that the petitioner was sought to be implicated solely on the basis of disclosure statement of Sachin and even after recording of said disclosure statement of Sachin, no recovery was effected from him. 

Lastly, it was observed that the petitioner was in custody since November 14, 2020 and there were 22 prosecution witnesses and none of them were examined, thus, the trial was likely to take time.

Thus, keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case coupled with the Top Court decision, as cited above, the Court allowed the bail plea and held, “… present petition is allowed and the petitioner is ordered to be released on bail on his furnishing bail / surety bonds to the satisfaction of the concerned trial Court/ Duty Magistrate and subject to him not being required in any other case.”

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