While the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons which matters the most, the Supreme Court observed while setting aside an Allahabad High Court which granted bail to a man accused in a dowry death case.
In this case, after recording the rival submissions, the High Court allowed the bail application, observing thus: "Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, submissions of learned counsel for the parties and keeping in view the nature of offence, evidence, complicity of accused and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court is of the view that the applicant has made out a case for bail. The bail application is allowed."
In appeal, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that this does not constitute the kind of reasoning which is expected of a judicial order. It said:
"The sentence which we have extracted earlier contains an omnibus amalgam of (i) "the entire facts and circumstances of the case"; (ii) "submissions of learned Counsel for the parties"; (iii) "the nature of offence"; (iv) "evidence"; and (v) "complicity of accused". This is followed by an observation that the "applicant has made out a case for bail", "without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case". This does not constitute the kind of reasoning which is expected of a judicial order. "
The court further added that the High Court did not consider the seriousness of the alleged offence, where a woman has met an unnatural end within a year of marriage. "The seriousness of the alleged offence has to be evaluated in the backdrop of the allegation that she was being harassed for dowry; and that a telephone call was received from the accused in close-proximity to the time of death, making a demand. There are specific allegations of harassment against the accused on the ground of dowry", it added.
"An order without reasons is fundamentally contrary to the norms which guide the judicial process. The administration of criminal justice by the High Court cannot be reduced to a mantra containing a recitation of general observations. That there has been a judicious application of mind by the judge who is deciding an application under Section 439 of the CrPC must emerge from the quality of the reasoning which is embodied in the order granting bail. While the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons which matters the most. That is because the reasons in a judicial order unravel the thought process of a trained judicial mind. We are constrained to make these observations because the reasons indicated in the judgment of the High Court in this case are becoming increasingly familiar in matters which come to this Court. It is time that such a practice is discontinued and that the reasons in support of orders granting bail comport with a judicial process which brings credibility to the administration of criminal justice.", the bench observed while setting aside the High Court order
Case: Sonu vs. Sonu Yadav [Crl.A.377/2021]
Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah
Counsel: Adv Vishal Yadav, Sr. Adv Ravinder Singh, Adv Sanjay Jain
Citation: LL 2021 SC 200