Consider prima facie case when deciding bail, SC tells courts

The Supreme Court has held that a court has to consider only the prima facie case made out against the accused while taking up his/her bail plea, and need not get into meticulous examination of the evidence collected by the investigating agencies for the purpose.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai explained the legal position while canceling the bail granted to a murder accused.

“The court has to only opine as to whether there is prima facie case against the accused. The court must not undertake meticulous examination of the evidence collected by the police and comment on the same. Such an assessment of evidence and premature comments are likely to deprive the accused of a fair trial,” the bench said.

The bench also said that each criminal case presented its own peculiar factual scenario and, therefore, certain grounds unique to a particular case may have to be taken into account by the court.

Among other factors, the court said that the gravity of the crime, the character of the evidence, position and status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and repeating the offence, the possibility of his tampering with the witnesses and obstructing the course of justice and such other grounds were also required to be taken into consideration.

The apex court said that the bail granted to the accused could be cancelled if the relevant materials have been ignored in its consideration.
Focus on relevance

“If the court granting bail ignores relevant materials indicating prima-facie involvement of the accused or takes into account irrelevant material, which has no relevance to the question of grant of bail to the accused, the High Court or the sessions court would be justified in canceling the bail. Such orders are against the well recognised principles underlying the power to grant bail,” the court said.

The bench allowed a petition filed by Kanwar Singh Meena, brother of deceased Purna Singh Meena seeking cancellation of bail granted to the accused Khushi Ram Meena in the murder case registered on May 20, 2009 in Jaipur in Rajasthan.

The court quashed the bail granted to the accused after noting that the Rajasthan High Court ignored the statement recorded by two witnesses before a magistrate, which “appear to be relevant as they prima-facie indicate involvement of the accused in the crime in question.”

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