11 Sep 2023 12:30 PM GMT
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that it is the "bounded duty" of Trial Court to examine the role of an accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] while deciding his bail plea under stringent Section 43-D.A bench of Justice G.S Sandhawalia and Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj observed that merely because a charge has been framed under UAPA would not be a ground to deny...
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that it is the "bounded duty" of Trial Court to examine the role of an accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act [UAPA] while deciding his bail plea under stringent Section 43-D.
A bench of Justice G.S Sandhawalia and Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj observed that merely because a charge has been framed under UAPA would not be a ground to deny the benefit of bail to an accused if prima facie charge is not made out.
"Prima facie we are of the considered opinion that the prosecution not being able to connect the appellant with the charge under Section 20 of the UAPA Act which would be punishable for life on the ground that he was a member of the terrorist gang, which would entitle the appellant for the benefit of regular bail, during the pendency of the trial," Court observed in the facts of the present case.
It was deciding the bail plea of one Chandeep alias Gabbar Singh, allegedly a member of Khalistani terrorist gang that hatched the conspiracy of 2019 Tarn Taran bomb blast and accused of throwing bomb on a professor of different religion and ideology. He is booked by the NIA under Sections 304, 153- A and 120-B IPC and Sections 13, 18, 18A, 18B, 20, 23 of the UAPA and Sections 3, 4 & 5 of Explosive Substance Act.
According to prosecution, Singh was inclined to Pro-Khalistani ideology and was sharing posts on myriad issues relating to Khalistan and Referendum 2020 and using the social media platform for spreading propaganda against the Government. He was also one of the accused in forming a terrorist gang supporting Khalistani ideology to carry out and commit terrorist attacks in India with ultimate aim of establishing an independent Khalistani State by violent means, it was alleged.
Trial Court concluded that prima facie case is made out against Singh and denied bail in 2020. His subsequent bail plea in 2023 was also denied.
In this appeal under Section 21 NIA Act, Singh's counsel submitted that he was in custody since September 2019 and a period of almost 4 years has passed and two co-accused in the same case were granted bail.
The Court noted that Singh has not been charged for the serious incident of retrieving the bombs from any pit when they had got exploded or of arranging explosive materials and making and throwing crude bombs and concealing the same and neither he has been charged for a terrorist attack at Muradpura Dera by throwing bombs or testing the same.
Refuting the finding of the Trial Court that the second bail application cannot be accepted because there was no change of circumstances, the Court said, "we are of the considered opinion that the earlier bail application dismissed on 11.12.2020 which was more than 2 1⁄2 years earlier would not be a bar as such for fresh consideration and it was not appropriate for the Trial Court to say that no fresh cause of action has arisen."
It also noted that two co-accused had been granted bail after custody of over 2 years and 4 months and 3 years and 2 months, respectively.
"Admittedly, the trial is creeping along and there has been no substantial progress and therefore, it was also not justified in holding that only the Constitutional Courts would have the power to grant bail as Section 43-C of the UAPA provides for application of the provisions of CrPC," said the Court.
Adding that under Section 153A IPC, the maximum punishment is only 3 years whereas under Section 13 of UAPA, it is upto 7 years and only under Section 20 of the UAPA, the sentencing may extend to imprisonment for life, the Court said, "the appellant having undergone almost 4 years of detention cannot be expected to continue in detention merely on account of the fact that the offences are serious as per the prosecution version."
Consequently, while adding certain conditions the Court granted him the Bail.
Appearance: Sumit Kalyan, Bhanu Pratap Singh, Advocates for the appellant.
Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu, Special Prosecutor for respondent-NIA.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 167
Case Title: Chandeep Singh @ Gabbar Singh v. National Investigation Agency
Case no.: CRA-D-148-2023
Click here to download/read order