The Delhi High Court on Monday opined that the requirement of custodial interrogation of the offender in serious and grave offences should be assessed practically.
“The requirement of the offender for custodial interrogation in serious and grave offences should be assessed from a practical approach. The conduct, demeanor, tone and tenor, body language of the accused on anticipatory bail is entirely different. The accused on such liberty always shrugs off his shoulders to the commission of crime or being privy to it in any manner. Law treats him as innocent unless he is convicted. Knowing it well the accused even in grave offences travel beyond truth. He is not expected to reveal the truth. It is only the custodial interrogation which leads to vital clues in recovering the case property, involvement of other persons, criminal conspiracy, place of concealment of case property etc.,” Justice Vinod Goel observed.
“The court has to strike a balance and to examine meticulously in the facts and circumstances of each case as to whether custodial interrogation of the accused is required or not. Allowing a person who is accused of such a grave offence out on bail even before he is arrested would not only interfere with investigation process but also may erode the faith of the citizens in the justice delivery system. Offences where such a large quantity of gold/amount of money is involved, it should be investigated in a thorough and fair manner,” Justice Goel added.
The Court was hearing an application for anticipatory bail by one Mr. Prakash Gupta in a case registered against him under Section 409 (criminal breach of trust) of Indian Penal Code. The complainant had alleged that Mr. Gupta, who is a gold merchant, was entrusted with 6 kgs of gold bars, which were then dishonestly misappropriated by the latter. Mr. Gupta had now applied for anticipatory bail.
The Court, however, opined that Mr. Gupta’s custodial interrogation was necessary in order to unearth the conspiracy and to recover the gold bars. The “gravity and serious nature of the offence”, it asserted, formed the prime consideration for denial of anticipatory bail in the case at hand.
“Persons accused of grave offences cannot be permitted to take the administration of justice for a ride. No doubt, arrest of a person, accused of an offence, may tarnish his image and that of his family members, relatives, friends, nears and dears. Because of this, sometimes some harsh steps are taken by the accused as such accusation brings bad name to him and his family. However, court must not be oblivious to the fact as to trauma, pain, sufferings of the victims and their family members. Sometimes, harsh steps are also taken by the victims out of frustration or due to loss of life or on account of loss of valuables or properties,” Justice Goel further explained.
The Court also noted that Mr. Gupta had taken a false defence about him having submitted major portion of the money with a company, even though the complainant had no concern with that company. It then concluded that Mr. Gupta is not expected to reveal the truth or co-operate during investigation if he is given the discretion of pre-arrest bail under Section 438 of Cr.P.C.
Mr. Gupta was, therefore, denied bail, “in view the serious nature of the offence committed and gravity of the accusation and the possibility of the petitioner to tamper with the evidence or flee from the justice”.