Read Order: Manjeet Singh v. State of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, June 16, 2022: While refusing to grant anticipatory bail to a POCSO Act accused, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that in considering pre-arrest bail plea, the statutory provisions of Section 438 (1) Cr.P.C. and other parameters like the gravity of the offence, chances of the accused tampering with the evidence and probabilities of fleeing from justice etc. are to be kept in mind.

The Bench of Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj added, “For consideration of pre-arrest bail, the Court is to keep into mind the statutory provisions of Section 438 (1) Cr.P.C. Hon’ble the Apex Court in plethora of judgments also reiterated time and again to take into consideration these parameters like the gravity of the offence, chances of accused tampering with the evidence and probabilities of fleeing from justice etc.”

The Court was dealing with a petition for the grant anticipatory bail to the petitioner in respect of a case emanating from an FIR registered under Sections 363, 366-A, 120-B IPC and Section 4 of POCSO Act, 2012 (later on Sections 376, 506, 323 IPC added) at Police Station Kulgarhi, District Ferozepur.

Essentially, in this case, the FIR in question was lodged by the father of the victim alleging therein that when his daughter alighted from a bus, some four-five young boys came in a car and allured her on the pretext of marriage and she was taken to some unknown place. The FIR was lodged to take legal action against the accused. 

At the commencement of the investigation, co-accused Surinder Singh was arrested and the victim was also recovered. After getting her medically examined, she was produced before the Magistrate and her statement was recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. She specifically deposed that co-accused Surinder Singh had ravished her. She deposed that accused Manjeet Singh i.e. the petitioner forcibly took her to the High Court by putting her under fear and pressure and she was forced to sign papers. The offences under Sections 376/506/323 IPC were added later. 

It was the case of the counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner had no criminal antecedents and he was falsely implicated in this case at the behest of family members of the victim. The Counsel made reference to the statement of ASI Baldev Singh made in the Court stating that the petitioner Manjeet Singh was nominated in the case. The Counsel also stated that the victim and the co-accused filed a writ seeking protection of their life and liberty, and the same was allowed by the High Court itself. It was also the Counsel’s case that the Sessions Judge illegally rejected the anticipatory bail filed by the petitioner and hence, the petitioner deserved to be granted bail. 

After taking into consideration the above-mentioned, the Court observed that the victim was about 16 years 8 months old at the time of occurrence and she specifically deposed about the complicity of the petitioner in the alleged offence. 

For consideration of pre-arrest bail, the Court observed that the statutory provisions of Section 438 (1) Cr.P.C. are to be kept in mind. Further, it was also observed by the Court that the Apex Court in a plethora of judgments has time and again reiterated to take into consideration parameters like the gravity of the offence, chances of the accused tampering with the evidence and probabilities of fleeing from justice etc. 

Thus, while weighing the facts and circumstances of the present case on the anvil of statutory parameters and law settled by the Supreme Court, the Court found that the petitioner did not qualify for invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction in his favour, hence, the present petition was dismissed.

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