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"Surprised That HC Should Act in the Teeth of Our Order": SC Sets Aside Allahabad HC Order Granting Interim Bail To Govt. Counsel Accused Of Rape [Read Order]

Sparsh Upadhyay
24 Sep 2020 1:24 PM GMT
Surprised That HC Should Act in the Teeth of Our Order: SC Sets Aside Allahabad HC Order Granting Interim Bail To Govt. Counsel Accused Of Rape [Read Order]
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The Supreme Court on Thursday (24th September) set aside the interim order dated 03.09.2020 of the Allahabad High Court wherein the High Court had granted interim bail to a government counsel in connection to a rape case lodged against him by a young lawyer.The Order has been passed by a bench comprising Justice RF Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Indira Banerjee while hearing an...

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The Supreme Court on Thursday (24th September) set aside the interim order dated 03.09.2020 of the Allahabad High Court wherein the High Court had granted interim bail to a government counsel in connection to a rape case lodged against him by a young lawyer.

The Order has been passed by a bench comprising Justice RF Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Indira Banerjee while hearing an SLP against the HC order (the HC's order has been explained here).

The Supreme Court in its order, specifically observed,

"We are surprised that the High Court should act in the teeth of our order dated 05.08.2020. This is a very serious case which must be investigated properly so that the truth ultimately will come out. This being the case, we set aside the interim order dated 03.09.2020, having heard learned counsel for both sides at some length." (emphasis supplied)

It may be noted that, as mentioned above, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday (03rd September) granted interim bail to the government counsel in connection to a rape case lodged against him by a young lawyer.

The interim bail was granted by Allahabad HC in connection with FIR No.0326 of 2020, under Sections 328, 354A, 376 IPC, P.S. Vibhuti Khand, and District Lucknow.

Notably, the Additional Chief Standing Counsel in the Lucknow bench of the High Court, Shailendra Singh Chauhan, has been accused of sexual harassment by a young practising lawyer from Delhi. She has alleged that Chauhan raped her in his chamber.

While hearing the government counsel's plea, who was apprehending his arrest in connection with the aforesaid matter, the Single Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh at Lucknow Bench had said (on 3rd September while granting interim Bail),

"The applicant is a reputed Advocate and has been practising in this Court for the last 29 years without having any criminal antecedent(s). The applicant was Additional Chief Standing Counsel for the State Government and for a number of Departments and Corporations. The entire evidence against the applicant is based on documents. Having regard to the status which the applicant has, there is no likelihood of his fleeing away from justice. " (emphasis supplied)

Advocate Utkarsh Singh argued for the Petitioner.

[NOTE: The interim Bail was granted in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court on Wednesday (05th August) had stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court to the extent that it restrained the UP Police from arresting Chauhan in connection to this case.]

The Chronology of the events

Allahabad HC grants interim relief from arrest (31st July)

Earlier, Chauhan had approached the High Court [Writ Petition No.12149 (MB) of 2020] stating that the allegations levelled against him were false and therefore, the FIR registered against him ought to be quashed.

While hearing the government counsel's plea for quashing of FIR, the Division Bench of Justices AR Masoodi and Rajeev Singh at Lucknow said,

"Looking to the contents of the F.I.R., prima facie, we are satisfied that a case for intervention is made out to the extent that the petitioner (accused) may not be arrested"

Though the court refused to quash the proceedings instantly, it had granted interim relief from arrest to Chauhan on Friday (31st July 2020).

Meanwhile, without expressing much on the merits of the case, the Court had granted time to the Complainant's lawyer to file a reply in the matter.

SC puts stay on Allahabad HC order granting interim relief from arrest (5th August)

Soon thereafter, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (05th August) stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court to the extent it restrained the UP Police from arresting Chauhan in connection to this case.

Significantly, the impugned order inasmuch as it made a direction upon the competent court to enable the investigating agency to recover relevant material connected with the case was not interfered with.

The stay order was passed by a Division bench comprised of Justice RF Nariman and Justice Navin Sinha while hearing an SLP against the HC order.

Thereafter, the petitioner had moved the trial Court for anticipatory bail, which, by order dated 19.08.2020, was rejected.

SC issues notices in a petition seeking transfer of investigation and trial in the case against Chauhan (21st August)

Further, the Supreme Court on Friday (21st August) issued notices in a writ petition seeking transfer of investigation and trial in the criminal case filed against Chauhan.

The petition was moved by one of the victim's friends, apprehending that investigation in the rape case may be hindered due to the "clout" of the accused enjoyed back in the state.

The Bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee had issued notices to the UP Government and SP, Lucknow.

The Petitioner had submitted that the FIR lodged by the victim in the Vibhuti Khand Police Station had shockingly been circulated all over media, disclosing the victim's identity and personal details to the public. This had made it impossible for her or her family to "step out of their house".

Allahabad HC grants Interim Bail to Chauhan (03rd September)

The court was of the view that the provision of anticipatory bail could be invoked by a person who has a "reasonable apprehension" that he may be arrested for committing a non-bailable offence.

In this context, the court opined,

"The main purpose of incorporating Section 438 in Cr.P.C. was that the liberty of an individual should not be unnecessarily jeopardised. Right to life and personal liberty are one of the important fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and therefore, no person should be confined or detained in any manner unless he has been held guilty."

Accordingly, it was directed that in the event of his arrest, the applicant namely Shailendra Singh Chauhan be released on interim bail in connection with FIR No.0326 of 2020, under Sections 328, 354A, 376 IPC, P.S. Vibhuti Khand, District Lucknow on his executing a personal bond to the tune of Rs.50,000/- (Rupees Fifty Thousand) with two sureties in the like amount to the satisfaction of the Arresting Officer.

The matter in the Allahabad High Court was then listed for further hearing on 05.10.2020.

Notably, this very interim order dated 03.09.2020 of the Allahabad High Court has been set aside by the Apex Court on Thursday (24th September) after hearing the learned counsel for both sides at some length.

Case Details:

Case Title: XXXX (Name intentionally hidden) v. State Of U.P. & Another.

Case No.: SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) Diary No(s). 19567/2020

Quorum: Justice RF Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Indira Banerjee

Appearance: Advocate Utkarsh Singh, AOR Sureshan P., (For Petitioner); Sr. Adv. Rakesh Dwivedi, AOR Shail Kumar Dwivedi, Advocate Mr. Siddharth Krishna (for the Respondent)

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]



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