The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday observed that a delay of even 7 months in reporting the incident of rape would not entitle the accused to anticipatory bail.
"...the learned counsel for the petitioner has contended that there is a delay of about 7 months in approaching the police and reporting the matter, which puts a doubt on truthfulness of case of the prosecution...But such type of pleas are not much relevant while deciding a petition for grant of pre-arrest bail", noted Justice H. S. Madaan.
The Single Judge was of the view that while such grounds may have some merit and significance while determining the guilt of the accused during the trial, "but not in the present case to find entitlement of petitioner for grant of pre arrest bail".
The Single Bench further reflected that the complainant belonged to a "poor and orthodox" section of the society where a young "unmarried girl being subjected to sexual assault" by a person is taken as "some sort of stigma" on the girl and her family. "It requires a lot of moral courage to disclose the unfortunate incident and inform the police in that regard", said the bench, explaining that, therefore, delay in such type of cases is not given much weightage.
However, the bench clarified that the question is to be seen and decided by the trial Court on the basis of evidence available and other facts and circumstances.
"The allegations against the petitioner are very grave and serious of molesting the complainant for a long time and then committing rape upon her several times and on one occasion getting such acts of forcible sexual intercourse photographed by his wife. The gravity and seriousness of allegations of raping a young girl do not warrant grant of concession of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner", the bench expressed.
The bench reiterated that anticipatory bail is a discretionary relief granted in exceptional cases to save the innocent persons from harassment and inconvenience and not to screen the culprits from custodial interrogation.
"Custodial interrogation of the petitioner is definitely required for complete and effective investigation and to effect the recovery of money and documents. In case custodial interrogation of the petitioner is denied to the investigating agency that would leave many loose ends and gaps in the investigation affecting the investigation being carried out adversely which is not called for", ruled the bench in denying pre-arrest bail.
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