Read Order: Sanjay Bakshi v. State Of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, July 2, 2022: While dealing with a regular bail plea wherein the petitioner, in association with his mother (the main accused), duped the complainant of a colossal amount to the tune of Rs 35 Lakh on the pretext of sending the complainant’s son to Canada, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has granted the concession of regular bail to the petitioner on the ground that his mother, the main accused, was already granted bail and the petitioner was already in custody for two months.

Additionally, the Bench of Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj also noted,

It is further noticed that it is a magisterial trial in which further custodial interrogation of the petitioner is not warranted.”

The Court was called upon to decide a petition under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for the grant of regular bail to the petitioner in an FIR registered under Sections 406, 420, 506 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The said FIR was lodged at the instance of the complainant who alleged that he was interested in sending his son (aged 33 years) to Canada and for the same purpose his friend introduced him to Susham Lata (petitioner’s mother) while mentioning that her son (the petitioner) and daughter-in-law were indulged in immigration work in Canada.

When the complainant met her (Susham Lata), she convinced him about her capability to ensure foreign travel for his son. Allegedly, a demand of Rs. 40,00,000/- was made by Susham Lata. However, upon negotiations, the same was settled at Rs.35,00,000/-. An advance of Rs. 5,00,000/- was sought and it was stated that the necessary formalities shall take about a year to conclude.

It was further alleged that in April 2016, the petitioner along with his mother collected the advance of Rs. 5,00,000/- from the complainant’s residence and his signatures on the file for documentation were also obtained. A month later, in May 2016, the remaining amount of Rs.30,00,000/- was also collected. Thereafter, the complainant was pursuing the matter with Susham Lata for either carrying out the work so promised or to return the money instead, but in 2018, she refused to do so.

Later, on insistence, the petitioner’s sister issued a cheque of Rs. 35,00,000/- and the petitioner gave a receipt for the said cheque in the presence of one Mewa Singh. But, on presentation, the cheque was dishonoured.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that at the very outset that the complainant was completely unknown to the petitioner and there was no transaction of any nature whatsoever by the petitioner with the said complainant. Further, it was the counsel’s case that the prosecution case did not inspire confidence because, unlike a prudent man, the complainant advanced a huge amount of Rs. 35,00,000/- within a span of one month without taking any receipt, notwithstanding the fact that a cash transaction of such a huge amount is impermissible in law and the capacity of the complainant to advance such a huge amount was itself yet to be established.

Also, the Counsel submitted that in addition thereto, there was no reason as to why the complainant did not institute proceedings under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 especially when the cheque in question was dishonoured in the month of October 2019. It was apparently on account of gross failure on the part of the complainant to establish the existence of a legally enforceable debt and pre-existing liability that the complainant chose not to take recourse to the appropriate remedy, the Counsel argued while also adding that even otherwise it would be beyond comprehension as to why the complainant would travel all the way to Yamuna Nagar for sending his son abroad especially when a large number of travel agents are available in Punjab.

It was also argued that even if the allegations levelled in the FIR were taken into consideration, the allurement was allegedly made by the petitioner’s mother and it was at best a case where the petitioner accompanied his mother to collect the money. He also contended that Susham Lata was already granted the concession of regular bail and that the petitioner was in custody since May 10, 2022, in a magisterial trial. His continued custodial interrogation was not warranted for the conclusion of the investigation, the Counsel submitted.

Per contra, the State counsel submitted that a huge amount of Rs. 35,00,000/- was fraudulently obtained by the petitioner in connivance with his mother and neither the amount was returned nor was the complainant’s son sent to Canada. The Counsel however could not controvert the fact that the mother of the petitioner was already granted the concession of regular bail and also that the petitioner was in judicial custody where he was not required in relation to any further investigation in the present case. She however expressed that the petitioner was apprehended at the airport while making an attempt to escape and that another case of similar nature was also pending against the petitioner.

In relation to this concern shown by the State Counsel, the petitioner’s counsel contended that the petitioner was ready and willing to furnish heavy surety to ensure his presence and he undertook to deposit his passport with the investigating agency to ward off any apprehension expressed by the prosecution agency. It was further submitted that insofar the second case was concerned, the same was investigated and the respondent-State proposed to file a closure report in the same, however, the same was not submitted to Court so far.

He also points out that even though the petitioner was stated to be declared as a proclaimed person in the said case, however, the said order declaring the petitioner as a proclaimed person was already set aside by the High Court.

After considering these rival submissions, the Court observed that the co-accused of the petitioner (his mother) to whom the attribution of inducement was made was already enlarged on bail. It was further noticed that it was a magisterial trial in which further custodial interrogation of the petitioner was not warranted. Besides, Justice Bhardwaj also considered the fact that the petitioner had already undergone actual incarceration for nearly two months since his arrest.

In view of the above, the Court deemed it appropriate to allow the instant petition. Accordingly, the present petition was allowed and the petitioner was admitted to regular bail subject to his furnishing bail/surety bonds to the satisfaction of the trial Court/Duty Magistrate, concerned.

It was made clear that the petitioner shall not extend any threat and shall not influence any prosecution witnesses in any manner directly or indirectly.

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