Read Order: Gaurav Arora v. State of Haryana
New Delhi, April 6, 2022: While dealing with two bail pleas by two petitioners (Gaurav Arora and Neeraj) arrayed as accused in a road accident-cum-murder case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that humans are different and have unpredictable behaviour, as an outcome of their varied environments and innate tendencies.
The above-stated remark of the Bench of Justice Anoop Chitkara was made in response to the submission made by the Counsel for one of the petitioners who argued that the petitioner’s wife was expecting during the time of the occurrence and that the petitioner himself had a well-to-do educational background and a job, thus eliminating the possibility of his having any motive for causing the said accident.
Negating this plea, Justice Chitkara asserted in this respect,
“The fact that the wife of Gaurav was expecting and likely to deliver in those days… there was no reason for him to indulge in such a heinous offence; given his education and his position in a corporate job, cannot be considered as a sure-shot response of every father expecting a baby; as it is highly subjective and would vary largely from person to person, some love war and crime, others make efforts to impart education, medicare, raising standards of living and peace.”
The petitioners, incarcerated upon their arrest in the FIR registered under Sections 302, 307, 34, 120-B IPC came up before the High Court under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) for seeking bail.
As per the prosecution’s case, on the intervening night of September 10, 2020, two persons, namely Robin (deceased) and Arvind (eye-witness) received injuries in a roadside accident. They were admitted to a hospital where doctors while declaring them unfit for making statements, found that the injuries were caused by blunt weapons. Due to deteriorating conditions, Robin was shifted to another hospital where the statement of his father (Satish Kumar) was recorded under section 154 CrPC.
In his statement, Satish Kumar stated that after dinner, he along with his son (Robin) and Arvind (his son’s friend), went for a walk. He stated that Robin and Arvind were walking ahead of him and at 11.15 P.M., a car came from behind at high speed, in a rash and negligent manner, and hit both the boys and fled after hitting them. He added that due to darkness, he could not note down the vehicle’s details. However, with the help of passersby, the injured victims were shifted to a hospital. Based on this statement, the said FIR was registered.
When Arvind was declared fit for making his statement, his statement was recorded under Section 161 Cr.P.C. The crux of this statement is that the accident was caused by the three accused persons (Gaurav Pilani (A-2), Raj Kumar Bathla (A-1), and Neeraj (A-3)) for the purpose of killing him owing to a long-standing animosity between them (Arvind and the accused persons). He also mentioned that he noted the car number and recognised the three accused sitting in the car after he was run over by it.
After the Police recovered the car (registered in the name of the wife of the third accused), the case was converted from a roadside accident to that of murder and attempt to murder.
The counsel for the second accused (Gaurav Pilani) argued that there was no reason for the second accused to cause the accident. He cited the factum of the pregnancy of Gaurav’s wife and his well to do educational background and a corporate job, to further the argument of lack of motive. The Counsel also argued that considering the time of the accident (11:15 PM), it would not have been possible for Arvind to note the car number and identify the persons sitting in the car. Lastly, he argued that the alleged discovery of the number plate of the car was from the joint statement of all the three accused, which is legally inadmissible.
The Counsel for the third accused argued that the petitioner had no motive to commit the offence; the car in question was registered in the name of the wife of Neeraj, with whom he had estranged relations; and call details were insufficient to connect him with the crime. Another argument was that the story was overturned, and a case of accident was converted into a case of murder. There was nothing to show that Arvind was not in reasonable mental condition, and the doctor’s statement, declaring him unfit, was without any application of mind or seeking any opinion. He has further argued Arvind’s statement under Section 161 CrPC was the result of deliberations after watching the CCTV footage.
On the other hand, the State Counsel argued that the crime resulted from a well-planned conspiracy.
The Court at the very outset observed that initially, Satish Kumar stated in his statement (which led to FIR registration) that he was also walking with Robin and Arvind, but at the time of the accident, he was 50 meters behind. However, the Court added that being a father of an injured in serious condition, it would be inappropriate to comment on his mental state of mind at that point in time.
Thus, whether the subsequent supplementary statement of Satish Kumar was tutored or influenced at the end of some person, according to the Court was needed to be appreciated during evidence, and the Court thus refrained itself from deriving any adverse opinion at this stage. Also, on the evidentiary value of the fitness certificates of the victims, the Court held that it was a subject matter of trial and not of bail.
Coming to the material available after the investigation, the Court opined that both the petitioners were allegedly identified by the eye-witness (Arvind); they talked to each other over calls on the date of occurrence; and due to their joint statement, the offending vehicle was recovered.
On the argument of the petitioner’s (Gaurav) counsel stating that his wife was expecting the Court opined that this factor could not be considered as a sure-shot response of every father expecting a baby; as it is highly subjective and would vary largely from person to person, some love war and crime, others make efforts to impart education, medicare, raising standards of living and peace. Justice Chitkara also added that humans are different and have unpredictable behaviour, as an outcome of their varied environments and innate tendencies.
Further, the Court noted that the exclusive evidence against Neeraj was that the Swift car, recovered from his garage, had the tell-tale signs of an accident. Addressing the plea of his counsel to the effect that the car was registered in his wife’s name with whom he severed his relations, the Court remarked,
“Therefore, he is not answerable to explain the car and its condition, as he had estranged relations with his wife. This, in fact, seems an additional reason because he might probably be trying to kill two birds with one stone.”
Also, the Court refused to discredit the version of an injured witness (Arvind) at the bail stage without allowing him to explain his stand during cross-examination.
Thus, without commenting on the case’s merits, in the facts and circumstances peculiar to this case, and for the reasons mentioned above, the Court adjudged that the petitioner failed to make a case for bail at this stage.