"The mere fact that during trial liberty of bail was not misused may not per se warrant suspension of sentence and grant of bail," the Delhi High Court has observed.
Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta added that even though a detailed examination of the merits of the case may not be required for suspension of sentence, however, the exercise of jurisdiction is to be made in judicious manner and for the reasons to be recorded in writing.
"The difference between grant of bail under Section 439 Cr.P.C. during trial as well as (suspension of sentence) Section 389 Cr.P.C. after conviction is well distinguished and presumption of innocence which is provided at the time of trial does not continue after the conviction of accused," the Court said.
"In view of above, there need to be compelling reasons for suspension of sentence and grant of bail under section 389 Cr.P.C. It is to be ascertained if there is patent infirmity in order of conviction or other cogent reasons exist for release on bail."
The Court was dealing with a plea filed by a man seeking suspension of sentence during the pendency of his appeal in a dowry death case.
He was sentenced for two years rigorous imprisonment under sec. 498A IPC, ten years under sec. 304B IPC and simple imprisonment for a period of one year under sec. 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. All the sentences were to run concurrently.
It was the appellant's case that the writing in the suicide note was never compared during the course of investigation and that during trial, benefit of bail was extended to him by the High Court.
On the other hand, the State opposed the plea by apprising the Court that the man had not even undergone half of the sentence since after his conviction in April 2019, he was released on interim bail since July 2020 and was directed to surrender on July 28, 2022.
"In nutshell, the reasons have to be germane to justify the grounds of bail. The mere fact that during the trial accused were granted bail and there was no allegation of misuse of liberty, is not of much significance, as the accused have been found guilty on conviction. The mere fact that during trial liberty of bail was not misused may not per se warrant suspension of sentence and grant of bail," the Court observed.
It added, "However if the convict has undergone more than half of the sentence in case of fixed term sentence and disposal of appeal is likely to take some time, the matter needs to seen in light of observations made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sonadhar v. The State of Chhattisgarh."
The Court was of the view that the Trial Court had duly reached the conclusion that there were demands for money and car and torture by the deceased.
It also noted that the testimony of the material witnesses was found reliable in trial and that the argument with reference to suicide note was also dealt in the judgment.
"It may be reiterated that the Appellate Court, at the stage of suspension of sentence and release on bail till disposal of appeal, has to examine if there is any patent infirmity in the order of conviction that renders the conviction prima facie erroneous. The evidence is not to be re-assessed or re-analyzed to suspend the execution of the sentence. The detailed observations on merits of the case are not called for, at this stage lest it prejudices the case of the petitioner but the matter has been seen in the light settled principles of law," the Court said.
Accordingly, the plea was dismissed.
Case Title: Anil v. State
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 754