Read Order: Sukhchain Singh @ Sukhi v. State of Punjab

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 12, 2022:  While dealing with a case wherein the petitioner assailed the Trial Court order where his bail was cancelled due to his absence before the Trial Court on a single occasion, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has accepted the explanation offered by petitioner saying that non appearance happened on account of noting the wrong date of hearing.

The Bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj held, “At times, the accused or his counsel can be prevented by sufficient reasons to put an appearance before the Court on a given date and every such absence cannot be necessarily construed as a deliberate and willful absence.”

The petitioner challenged the impugned order passed by Addl. Sessions Judge, Ludhiana during trial in respect of an FIR registered under Section 18, 25 and 61 NDPS whereby his bail was cancelled and his bail/surety bonds were forfeited to the State.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that vide a 2019 order, the petitioner was granted regular bail by the trial Court and thereafter, he kept on appearing regularly. However, on April 12, 2022, he did not appear before the trial Court, as he noted down the wrong date, and the trial Court proceeded to cancel his bail and forfeited the bail bonds through impugned order. He submitted that the petitioner was ready and willing to participate in the trial proceedings (date of hearing fixed for September 2022).

Also, when the counsel was confronted with the maintainability of the revision petition, he made a prayer to treat the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and the same was accepted by the Court. 

The State Counsel on the other opposed the prayer and submitted that since the petitioner was well-aware of the date of hearing before the trial Court, but he failed to appear, therefore, the Court was justified in cancelling his bail. However, the Counsel did not dispute the fact that the case was coming up before the trial Court for hearing. 

A perusing the Order impugned, the High Court observed that the trial Court proceeded to pass the extreme order of cancellation of bail for the solitary absence of petitioner, who was on regular bail since March 20, 2019. Thus, in this light, the Court opined that at times, the accused or his counsel can be prevented by sufficient reasons to put an appearance before the Court on a given date and every such absence cannot be necessarily construed as a deliberate and willful absence. 

The explanation offered by petitioner for non appearance before the trial Court appeared to the Court to be justified and therefore, the same was accepted.

Apart from the above, the Court was of the opinion that the impugned order was passed recently and in case, the petitioner was allowed to join the trial proceedings, it would facilitate the prosecution to continue with the trial.

Consequently, Justice Bajaj held, “… the impugned order dated 12.04.2022 is set aside subject to appearance of the petitioner before the trial Court within a week and he is allowed to remain on the same bail bonds and surety bonds.”

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