"Judiciousness qua grant or refusal of bail must be exercised prudently. A conditions for grant of bail, incapable of compliance, renders the bail a complete fantasy."
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the bail conditions imposed by a court should not be so onerous that they prove "fatal to bail".
"The condition of bail or the burden imposed on it, ought not to be such so as to defeat the very meaning of bail. Else, might as well decline the bail instead of giving an illusory one," the bench Justice Arun Monga said.
The observation was made in a criminal application whereby the Petitioner had challenged a bail order, to the extent of bail condition requiring him to furnish the details and documents of any immovable property/ properties valuing Rs. 100 crores in lieu of personal bond with respect to all cases pending against him and other co-accused.
The Petitioner had been arrested in connection with 67 FIRs that were lodged against him for cheating, fraud, etc. He had filed a bail application only qua one FIR. However, while granting bail, the court considered the amount complained of in every FIR, summing up to approx Rs. 300 crore and accordingly imposed the impugned bail condition.
The Court recorded its findings under the following issues:
1) Whether an onerous condition incapable of being performed can be imposed?
Answering in the negative, the bench observed that conditions for grant of bail should not itself render the order of bail a "nullity".
"Liberty and law must go hand-in-hand. Law permits curtailing liberty of an individual suspect, but the purpose of using that power under law is to prevent further harm to people at large in a civilized society, including the complainant(s). Liberty cannot thus be curtailed on grounds not envisaged in law or taking a rather tyrannical view on equity to impose undue conditions on liberty, as are incapable of compliance, as in the present case," the bench said.
It noted that the "hefty condition" of security imposed in the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge was unreasonable and oppressive. The very fact that the petitioner had been languishing in jail (for 26 months) despite having obtained a favourable bail order a year ago, was sufficient indication of his "incapacity to comply" with the said condition
"Keeping the petitioner in further detention owing to his incapacity to comply with the said onerous condition of bail would be improper and cause extreme hardship to him to defend himself," the court said while modifying the relevant condition to furnishing of personal bond for Rs.3,00,00,000/- instead, with one surety for an equal amount.
2) Whether while granting bail in a particular FIR, can a court club all the other FIRs, which are not under consideration before it, for the purpose of imposing an arduous bail condition on an accused?
The single bench observed that a bail court cannot club such matters that are not before it.
"In my opinion, the amount of bond required from the petitioner and the conditions for bail in FIR No. 113 dated 04.03.2018 ought to have been determined taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of this particular FIR on its own merits, independently of and separately from any other cases" it said.
The court clarified that had the Petitioner sought appropriate orders to club the cases, in that event, taking holistic view, an order could have been passed, imposing a security of the kind of Rs.100 crores to secure the rights of complainants in all FIRs.
However, in the instant case where bail was sought only wrt one FIR , what necessarily has to be seen is the allegation(s) in FIR in question only.
"If the argument of the State Counsel to club all FIRs for purpose of imposing bail condition in one FIR is accepted, it would amount to conferring powers on a bail Court which are otherwise not contained in Cr.P.C. A bail court cannot assume powers in those cases which are not before it," the bench added.
At the same time however, the court was appreciative of the "laudable intent" of the Sessions Court to protect the interests of the investors in all 67 FIRs. But, the said intent to protect innocent investors ought to have been achieved within four corners of criminal jurisprudence by dealing with each criminal case/FIR on its individual merits, the court said.
Directing Petitioner to furnish security towards personal bond of his co-accused is illegal
The court went on to note that the impugned bail condition of depositing security of Rs. 100 crore was imposed towards the personal bonds of the Petitioner himself as well as his three co-accused.
Holding the same to be unjust the court said,
"To my mind, the aforesaid other accused persons, if they want to be released on bail, have to seek bail and, if granted, would have to themselves comply with the conditions of bail, whatever those may be. Directing the petitioner to furnish documents concerning security of Rs. 100 crores towards the personal bond of his co-accused Nanak Chand, Rajesh Singla and Bishan Bansal seems patently unjust, unfair, improper and illegal."
Case Title: Anil Jindal v. State of Haryana
Case No.: CRM-M No. 4525/2020 (O&M)
Quorum: Justice Arun Monga
Appearance: Senior Advocate Dr. Anmol Rattan Sidhu and Advocate RS Rai with Advocates Kunal Dawar and Pratham Sethi (for Petitioner); AAG Deepak Sabharwal and Dy. AG Tanisha Peshawaria (for State)
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