“We are of the view that the High Court was not justified in going into the evidence on record in such a depth which amounts to ascertaining the probability of the conviction of the accused.”
The Supreme Court has cancelled bail granted by the high court to an ‘influential’ businessman accused in a murder case, taking into account his past attempt to evade the process of law, and also implications of the clout enjoyed by him in the community.
The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar in State of Orissa vs. Mahimananda Mishra said the court must not go into deep into merits of the matter while considering an application for bail and all that needs to be established from the record is the existence of a prima facie case against the accused
Mahimananda Mishra was accused of plotting murder of the branch manager of his rival company. During the investigation, it was found that he went away to Thailand travelling via Chennai, Delhi and Nepal, before he could be arrested and only after a Look Out Circular was issued, he was traced to Thailand and was deported therefrom to India, after which he was arrested. Although all these facts were brought before the high court, it granted bail to the accused.
In the order granting bail, the high court further observed that the undated letter of the deceased addressed to the police showing apprehension to his life cannot be treated as a dying declaration; the material on record does not indicate any motive on the part of the respondent to conspire towards the commission of murder in question, and that the confessions of the co-accused cannot be made used of against him.
On appeal by the state, the apex court bench observed that the high court was not justified in going into the evidence on record in such a depth which amounts to ascertaining the probability of the conviction of the accused.
Referring to Anil Kumar Yadav vs. State (NCT) of Delhi, the bench said: “It is by now well settled that at the time of considering an application for bail, the Court must take into account certain factors such as the existence of a prima facie case against the accused, the gravity of the allegations, position and status of the accused, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and repeating the offence, the possibility of tampering with the witnesses and obstructing the Courts as well as the criminal antecedents of the accused. It is also well settled that the Court must not go into deep into merits of the matter while considering an application for bail. All that needs to be established from the record is the existence of a prima facie case against the accused.”
The court further observed that the accused is an influential person in his locality, in terms of both money and muscle power. “There is a reasonable apprehension that he might tamper with or otherwise adversely influence the investigation, which is still going on qua some of the co-accused in the case, or that he might intimidate witnesses before or during the trial. The High Court in observing that there was no possibility of the respondent’s absconding in light of his being a local businessman, not only completely overlooked his past attempt to evade the process of law, but also overlooked the implications of the clout enjoyed by him in the community,” the bench observed and directed the businessman be taken into custody.