Long Incarceration Not Ground For Bail In Case Of Severe Offences Like Murder: Jammu & Kashmir HC Denies Bail To Undertrial Incarcerated For Over 7 Years

Akshita Saxena

29 Jun 2021 10:58 AM GMT

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  • Long Incarceration Not Ground For Bail In Case Of Severe Offences Like Murder: Jammu & Kashmir HC Denies Bail To Undertrial Incarcerated For Over 7 Years

    "Case where gravity of offence alleged against an accused is severe, the bail cannot be granted only on the ground of long incarceration," observed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Holding thus, it refused to enlarge on bail a murder accused incarcerated pending trial since December 2012. A Single Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar noted that some delay in completion of the trial has...

    "Case where gravity of offence alleged against an accused is severe, the bail cannot be granted only on the ground of long incarceration," observed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

    Holding thus, it refused to enlarge on bail a murder accused incarcerated pending trial since December 2012.

    A Single Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar noted that some delay in completion of the trial has taken place on account of restrictions in physical hearing of cases due to COVID-19 pandemic but that is an eventuality beyond the control of everybody and the same cannot be the sole ground for enlarging an accused on bail, particularly in a heinous offence like murder.

    It added,

    "in a case where a person is alleged to be involved in a offence punishable with death sentence or imprisonment for life, he cannot be released on bail if there appear reasonable grounds for believing that he has been guilty of such an offence."

    The Petitioner in this case was incarcerated since 31st December, 2012 for allegedly committing an offence under Section 302 of RPC. He was charged by the Trail Court in February 2014 and subsequent developments pertaining to impleadment of more persons as accused led to stay of Trial by the Supreme Court in December 2016. Thus, for almost three years, the trial in the case remained stalled.

    Consequently, the Court noted that the prosecution evidence in the case is yet to be completed.

    Senior Advocate RS Thakur appearing for the Petitioner submitted that the delay in completion of trial is solely attributable to the prosecution as well as to the complainant party and for this, he cannot be made a scapegoat.

    He also sought bail on merits claiming that, whatever evidence has been recorded by the prosecution in the case so far, the same does not even, prima facie, show the involvement of the petitioner in the alleged crime as the evidence recorded so far is contradictory and unreliable.

    AAG Aseem Sawhney contended that the delay in completion of prosecution evidence is not attributable to prosecution as the trial of the case remained stayed for quite some time due to the orders of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

    The High Court opined that nature of accusation and the severity of punishment in case of conviction has to be kept in mind before granting bail.

    In this backdrop it observed,

    "The statements of prosecution witnesses, which have been referred to by learned counsel for the petitioner, reveal that, prima facie, they have supported the prosecution case. It is not a case where these witnesses have turned hostile or that they have stated something which is absolutely and diagonally opposite to what prosecution has alleged in the charge sheet."

    It added,

    "A meticulous or detailed examination of the statements of aforesaid prosecution witnesses may or may not bring out inconsistencies and contradictions in their statements on vital aspects of the case but this is not the stage for this Court to undertake such an exercise as the same would amount to prejudging merits of the case.

    However, one thing is clear that there is, prima facie, evidence on record in the form of statements of witnesses recorded by the prosecution so far and the statements of witnesses recorded during investigation, which are yet to be produced before the trial court, that the petitioner is, prima facie, involved in the commission of alleged crime. So there is absolutely no scope for this Court to enlarge the petitioner on bail on merits."

    The Court also clarified that the delay in trial was not because of fault of the prosecution but because of the reasons for which no body can be blamed.

    Furthermore, the Bench noted that no fresh grounds have emerged in the case for the High Court to take a different view from the one taken by the Trial Court on the question of bail.

    Case Title: Sohan Singh v. UT of J&K

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