The Bombay High Court on Friday rejected the bail application filed by Mahesh B Patil, a former BJP Corporator from Kalyan-Dombivali observing that habitual offenders like him do not deserve to be released on temporary bail as per the guidelines of the State High Power Committee.
Justice Sadhna S Jadhav heard Patil's bail plea along with an intervention application filed by Kunal Patil. Mahesh Patil has been accused of plotting a failed conspiracy to commit murder of Kunal Patil, another BJP Corporator who is the applicant's rival.
As reported earlier, another bench of the High Court had questioned whether Sessions Court can reject the applicant's bail once he was eligible under the guidelines issued by the High Power Committee for release of certain categories of prisoners in order to decongest prisons following the Supreme Court's order dated May 23 in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Justice Jadhav concluded that Patil was not eligible as per the Committee's guidelines.
Crime was registered with Manpada Police Station, Dombivali, for offences punishable under Sections 120B, 302, read with 115 of the Indian Penal Code and under section 3 read with 25 of the Indian Arms Act. The applicant had also filed a bail application in 2018 before the High Court, which was rejected by an order dated August 1, 2018.
Advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay appeared on behalf of the applicant and submitted that his client deserves to be enlarged as he has not been accused under any special enactment and meets the criteria for release.
Court referred to the guidelines issued by the State High Power Committee dated March 25-
"The prisoners who fall in the class or the category spelt out by this decision will be entitled to be released in accordance with law in considering every case for such reliefs, the nature of the offence and severity of the offence shall be considered. The possibility of the prisoner committing offence in case of temporary reliefs(such as habitual offenders or likelihood of his/her absconding should also be considered as important tests to decline such requests for temporary release."
APP SV Gavand submitted that the application seeking bail was already denied by the Sessions Court on merits. He informed the Court that the applicant is being prosecuted in a 2007 case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The case is pending and besides that, the applicant is also charge-sheeted in 17 different cases. Calling the accused a 'habitual offender', Gavand told the Court that preventive measures have been taken against the applicant on more than 7 occasions but he has created a terror in the said area.
As per Habitual Offenders Act, 1959 "Habitual Offender" means any person who since his attaining the age of 18 years during any consecutive period (I) whether before or after commencement of this Act or partly before or partly after such commencement) of five years has been sentenced on conviction on not less than three occasions to a substantive term of imprisonment for one or more of the scheduled offences committed on separate occasions, being offences which are not so connected together as to form parts of the same transaction.
"Black's Law Dictionary defines "Habbitual Offender" as a recidivist. A recidivist is one who has been convicted of multiple criminal offences usually similar in nature; "a repeat offender". This has to be read in consonance with recidivism, which indicates a tendency to relapse into a habit of criminal activity or behaviour. By this definition, it would be more than clear that the applicant has criminal antecedents and that he is into a habit of indulging into criminal activities and that it is not possible for the State machinery to control his activities, despite the fact that preventive action has been taken against him on several occasions."
Thus, the Court concluded that in view of the guidelines of the High Power Committee, it would be necessary to also take into consideration the merits of the matter, the gravity of the offence and the attitude of the accused of indulging into criminal activities despite preventive measures. The applicant does not deserve temporary bail, Justice Jadhav said.
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