The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday reiterated the significance of bail vis-à-vis right to personal liberty of an accused, in cases where custody is not required for investigation and/or where there is no apprehension of the accused fleeing from justice.
The bench of Justice Sandeep Sharma granted bail to the accused in the present case, booked under the provisions of the NDPS Act, while holding,
"A humane attitude is required to be adopted by a judge, while dealing with an application for remanding a suspect or an accused person to police custody or judicial custody. There are several reasons for this including maintaining the dignity of an accused person, howsoever poor that person might be, the requirements of Article 21 of the Constitution and the fact that there is enormous overcrowding in prisons, leading to social and other problems as noticed by this Court in In Re-Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons."
The remarks were borrowed from the verdict of the Supreme Court in Dataram Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr., whereby it was held that while considering prayer for grant of bail, it is important to ascertain whether the accused was participating in the investigations to the satisfaction of the investigating officer and was not absconding or not appearing when required by the investigating officer.
The High Court observed that though Ganza was recovered from the conscious possession of the Petitioner in the present case, the quantity of the contraband was of "intermediate quantity", and rigours of Section 37 of the NDPS Act (Offences to be cognizable and non-bailable) were not attracted.
The court also dispelled the apprehensions expressed by the State counsel that if enlarged on bail, the Petitioner may flee from justice. It held,
"Since guilt, if any, of the bail petitioner is yet to be proved, in accordance with law by the prosecution by leading cogent and convincing evidence, this Court sees no reason to curtail the freedom of the bail petitioner for indefinite period during the trial, especially when nothing remains to be recovered from him. Apprehension expressed by learned Additional Advocate General that in the event of bail petitioner being enlarged on bail, he may flee from justice or may again indulge in such activities, can be best met by putting bail petitioner to stringent conditions."
The court said that the object of bail is to secure the attendance of the accused in the trial and the proper test to be applied in the solution of the question whether bail should be granted or refused is whether it is probable that the party will appear to take his trial. Otherwise, bail is not to be withheld as a punishment. Reliance was placed on Sanjay Chandra v. CBI (2012)1 SCC 49.
"The object of bail is to secure the appearance of the accused person at his trial by reasonable amount of bail. The object of bail is neither punitive nor preventative. Deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment, unless it can be required to ensure that an accused person will stand his trial when called upon. The Courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty. Detention in custody pending completion of trial could be a cause of great hardship. From time to time, necessity demands that some unconvicted persons should be held in custody pending trial to secure their attendance at the trial but in such cases, "necessity" is the operative test," the Bench reiterated.
It therefore proceeded to allow the regular bail plea subject to the Petitioner furnishing personal bonds in the sum of Rs. 2 Lakh with two local sureties in the like amount each to the satisfaction of the learned trial Court/ Magistrate.
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