9 Feb 2022 3:45 PM GMT
The Delhi High Court has observed that an accused person cannot be kept in custody indefinitely when the right to speedy trial is a concomitant of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Justice Subramonium Prasad observed thus:"When right to speedy trial is a concomitant of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it can be presumed that one the facets would also be that the accused cannot...
The Delhi High Court has observed that an accused person cannot be kept in custody indefinitely when the right to speedy trial is a concomitant of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Justice Subramonium Prasad observed thus:
"When right to speedy trial is a concomitant of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it can be presumed that one the facets would also be that the accused cannot be kept in custody indefinitely."
The Court was dealing with a plea filed by a woman seeking bail in an FIR registered under sec. 420 of the Indian Penal Code.
The complainant, a jeweler by profession, had alleged that the petitioner, who was his customer, had dishonestly represented that the Prime Minister of India had started a programme wherein the King of Brunei wanted to start 14 Super Specialty Hospitals in different parts of India, with the first opening in Ahmedabad, Gujrat.
It was alleged that the Petitioner stated that she had met the cousin sister of the King of Brunei in U.S.A., who wanted to visit political leaders in India and gift them jewellery. It was also stated that the Complainant was induced into accepting the order worth more than one crore rupees without taking any advance and agreed to give 5% commission to the Petitioner and her family.
The complainant therefore said that he purchased the gold and diamonds required for the jewellery, and handed over the same to the Petitioner and her family in June 2015. The Petitioner had then allegedly informed the Complainant that he would get the money by 3rd June, 2015.
The Complainant alleged that when he visited the house of the Petitioner, her family told him that the Petitioner had ran away with the jewellery.
The Chargesheet in the matter was filed on July 3, 2018 and the Petitioner's bail plea was rejected by the Trial Court which made her approach the High Court for grant of bail.
Perusing the material on record, the Court was of the view that the same disclosed that the Petitioner played a crucial role in the commission of the alleged offence and was the mastermind in the plan behind cheating the Complainant of more than two crores of rupees.
Furthermore, the Court said that the plan hatched by the Petitioner and other co-accused revealed that that it involved a methodical and intricate planning which could be ascertained from the fact that the Petitioner purchased another SIM to impersonate the cousin sister of the King of Brunei.
"The Petitioner has also been uncooperative during the investigation, and has also resorted to levelling allegations against the Complainant and her family members, including her husband and her mother," the Court noted.
However, the Court also noted that the Petitioner was in custody since May 2018 with the exception of her being out on interim bail from May 14 to November 23 last year on the ground of the HPC guidelines formulated in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court found merit in the submission of Petitioner's counsel that even if she is convicted, she would be subjected to imprisonment for a maximum of seven years, out of which she had already spent two years in custody.
Noting that even after four years, the investigation was not completed, the Court said that the Petitioner cannot be kept behind bars endlessly.
Furthermore, it said:
"The Petitioner has already spent more than one-fourth of the maximum period of imprisonment in custody. There is no allegation that the petitioner has cheated anybody else. The apprehension that the Petitioner will flee from justice can be dissipated by ensuring that appropriate conditions are imposed. Furthermore, the possibility of the Petitioner threatening the Complainant, her own family members and other witnesses can also be done away with by way of imposing conditions."
Accordingly, the Court granted bail to the petitioner.
Case Title: NANCY GILL v. STATE
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 107
Click Here To Read Order