Noting that cases of assault or use of criminal force to obstruct/prevent public servants from discharging their duties are on the increase, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently observed that such cases have to be "sternly dealt" to curb the tendency of assaulting or using criminal force to public servants and the "protective shield of law" has to be extended to such public servants to enable them to effectively discharge their duties without any fear.
Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi was hearing a plea for anticipatory bail in connection with a FIR under Sections 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 427 (Mischief causing damage) read with Section 34 of the IPC, which Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 382 (Theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to the committing of the theft) and 325 (grievous hurt)of the IPC were added later on.
The Single judge noted that the Agriculture Develoment Officers had visited the village of the petitioners 08.06.2020 at about 12 noon to persuade the accused not to plant paddy crop before the date notified as per the government instructions. The petitioner-accused are alleged to have abused, chased and obstructed the public servants in discharge of their duties and to have damaged their vehicle. One of the co-accused is alleged to have caused injuries to the team of public servants concerned including a lady officer.
On behalf of the petitioners, it was argued that the offences under Sections 186, 323 and 427 of the IPC are bailable and only the offence under Section 353 of the IPC is non bailable. Further, the offences under Sections 307 and 382 of the IPC have been added later on. "There is no medical opinion as to any injury caused being dangerous to life and offence under Section 307 of the IPC is not made out", it was submitted. It was also urged that none of the injuries are imputed to petitioner no. 2 who is falsely implicated only because he is the main accused's father.
In denying the anticipatory bail, the Single bench opined that the questions as to applicability of the provisions of Section 307 and 382 of the IPC have to be decided on the basis of evidence to be produced during trial and could not be conclusively judged at that stage.
Relying on authorities of the Supreme Court, Justice Tyagi was of the view that arrest of the petitioner will be a part of the process of investigation intended to secure several purposes. "The petitioner is to be questioned in detail regarding various facets of the crime. Custodial interrogation of the petitioner may provide information leading to discovery of material facts. Curtailing of his freedom is necessary in order to enable the investigation to proceed without hindrance and to protect witnesses", reiterated the High Court.
Deeming custodial interrogation necessary, the High Court rejected the plea for anticipatory bail.
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