Read Order: Sajan Kumar @ Nikka v. State of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 05,2022:  While dealing with a petition seeking anticipatory bail in respect of an FIR registered against the accused-petitioner under Section 379-B of the IPC, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted the relief sought by the accused-petitioner while holding, 

“… the previous criminal history of the petitioner is not being considered strictly at this stage as a factor for denying bail”.

In this case, before the Bench of Justice Anoop Chitkara the petitioner, incarcerated upon his arrest in an FIR lodged under Section 379-B IPC, came up before the High Court under Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) seeking bail. In this bail application, the petitioner disclosed his criminal antecedents (his involvement in three cases). 

Essentially, in this case, the present petitioner was arrayed as an accused as he snatched and fled with the purse of the complainant containing Rs. 500/-. 

The Counsel for the petitioner contended that the pre-trial incarceration would cause an irreversible injustice to the petitioner and family. On the other hand, while opposing the bail, the counsel representing the State contended that given the criminal past, the accused was likely to indulge in crime once released on bail. 

After considering these contentions, the Court made reference to the Supreme Court in Maulana Mohd Amir Rashadi v. State of U.P. wherein it was held that merely on the basis of criminal antecedents, the claim of the accused cannot be rejected and 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 the possibility of fleeing away from the jurisdiction of the Court etc. 

Further reference was made to the case of Paramjeet Singh v. State of Punjab, wherein it was held that while considering each bail petition of the accused with a criminal history, an onerous responsibility is cast upon the Courts to act judiciously with reasonableness because arbitrariness is the antithesis of law. It was also held that the criminal history must be of cases where the accused was convicted, including the suspended sentences and all pending First Information Reports, wherein the bail petitioner stands arraigned as an accused. 

[NOTE: This link (of the case of Paramjeet Singh- needs to be re-checked]. 

It was also held in the above-cited case that in reckoning the number of cases as criminal history, the prosecutions resulting in acquittal or discharge, or when Courts quashed the FIR; the prosecution stands withdrawn, or prosecution filed a closure report; cannot be included. 

In the present case, the Court observed that the petitioner was in custody since 11 May 2021, i.e., for almost a year. Thus, given the period of incarceration already undergone, the amount snatched and other factors peculiar to this case, the Court found it appropriate to afford the petitioner a final opportunity to course-correct. 

Also, on the previous criminal history of the petitioner, the Court was of the view that it was not being considered strictly at this stage as a factor for denying bail. 

“Without commenting on the case’s merits, in the facts and circumstances peculiar to this case, and for the reasons mentioned above, the petitioner makes a case for bail, subject to the following terms and conditions, which shall be over and above and irrespective of the contents of the form of bail bonds in chapter XXXIII of CrPC, 1973”, held the Court. 

The petition was allowed.   

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