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Unreasoned Order Granting/Rejecting Bail Raises Presumption Of Non Application Of Mind: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
5 Dec 2019 12:18 PM GMT
Unreasoned Order Granting/Rejecting Bail Raises Presumption Of Non Application Of Mind: SC [Read Judgment]
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"Merely recording 'having perused the record' and 'on the facts and circumstances of the case' does not sub-serve the purpose of a reasoned judicial order. "

Where an order refusing or granting bail does not furnish the reasons that inform the decision, there is a presumption of the non-application of mind, the Supreme Court has observed while setting aside an order passed by Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur bench. In this case [Mahipal vs. Rajesh Kumar @ Polia], a murder accused was granted bail by the Rajasthan High Court. The order granting bail...

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Where an order refusing or granting bail does not furnish the reasons that inform the decision, there is a presumption of the non-application of mind, the Supreme Court has observed while setting aside an order passed by Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur bench.

In this case [Mahipal vs. Rajesh Kumar @ Polia], a murder accused was granted bail by the Rajasthan High Court. The order granting bail under Section 439 CrPC was assailed by the defacto complainant before the Supreme Court.

Allowing the appeal, the bench noted that the order passed by the High Court fails to notice material facts and shows a non-application of mind to the seriousness of the crime and the circumstances referred to earlier which ought to have been taken into consideration. The court also observed that where an earlier application for bail has been rejected, there is a higher burden on the appellate court to furnish specific reasons as to why bail should be granted. Taking note of the order, which did not contain much reasons, the bench observed that it is a sound exercise of judicial discipline for an order granting or rejecting bail to record the reasons which have weighed with the court for the exercise of its discretionary power. It said:

Merely recording 'having perused the record' and 'on the facts and circumstances of the case' does not sub-serve the purpose of a reasoned judicial order. It is a fundamental premise of open justice, to which our judicial system is committed, that factors which have weighed in the mind of the judge in the rejection or the grant of bail are recorded in the order passed. Open justice is premised on the notion that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. The duty of judges to give reasoned decisions lies at the heart of this commitment. Questions of the grant of bail concern both liberty of individuals undergoing criminal prosecution as well as the interests of the criminal justice system in ensuring that those who commit crimes are not afforded the opportunity to obstruct justice. Judges are duty bound to explain the basis on which they have arrived at a conclusion.

Following are some of the observations on exercise of Bail Jurisdiction made in the judgment by Justice Chandrachud:

Bail Jurisdiction To Be Exercised Not As a Matter Of Course

The power to grant bail under Section 439 is of a wide amplitude. But it is well settled that though the grant of bail involves the exercise of the discretionary power of the court, it has to be exercised in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course.

Court bound to examine whether there is a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence

The determination of whether a case is fit for the grant of bail involves the balancing of numerous factors, among which the nature of the offence, the severity of the punishment and a prima facie view of the involvement of the accused are important. No straight jacket formula exists for courts to assess an application for the grant or rejection of bail. At the stage of assessing whether a case is fit for the grant of bail, the court is not required to enter into a detailed analysis of the evidence on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime by the accused. That is a matter for trial. However, the Court is required to examine whether there is a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence and on a balance of the considerations involved, the continued custody of the accused sub-serves the purpose of the criminal justice system. Where bail has been granted by a lower court, an appellate court must be slow to interfere and ought to be guided by the principles set out for the exercise of the power to set aside bail.

The grant of bail is to be secured within the bounds of the law

The provision for an accused to be released on bail touches upon the liberty of an individual. It is for this reason that this Court does not ordinarily interfere with an order of the High Court granting bail. However, where the discretion of the High Court to grant bail has been exercised without the due application of mind or in contravention of the directions of this Court, such an order granting bail is liable to be set aside. The Court is required to factor, amongst other things, a prima facie view that the accused had committed the offence, the nature and gravity of the offence and the likelihood of the accused obstructing the proceedings of the trial in any manner or evading the course of justice. The provision for being released on bail draws an appropriate balance between public interest in the administration of justice and the protection of individual liberty pending adjudication of the case. However, the grant of bail is to be secured within the bounds of the law and in compliance with the conditions laid down by this Court. It is for this reason that a court must balance numerous factors that guide the exercise of the discretionary power to grant bail on a case by case basis. Inherent in this determination is whether, on an analysis of the record, it appears that there is a prima facie or reasonable cause to believe that the accused had committed the crime. It is not relevant at this stage for the court to examine in detail the evidence on record to come to a conclusive finding

Assessment Of Correctness of Order Granting Bail And Application For Cancellation of Bail Different

The considerations that guide the power of an appellate court in assessing the correctness of an order granting bail stand on a different footing from an assessment of an application for the cancellation of bail. The correctness of an order granting bail is tested on the anvil of whether there was an improper or arbitrary exercise of the discretion in the grant of bail. The test is whether the order granting bail is perverse, illegal or unjustified. On the other hand, an application for cancellation of bail is generally examined on the anvil of the existence of supervening circumstances or violations of the conditions of bail by a person to whom bail has been granted.

Duty of Appellate Court

Where a court considering an application for bail fails to consider relevant factors, an appellate court may justifiably set aside the order granting bail. An appellate court is thus required to consider whether the order granting bail suffers from a non-application of mind or is not borne out from a prima facie view of the evidence on record. It is thus necessary for this Court to assess whether, on the basis of the evidentiary record, there existed a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the crime, also taking into account the seriousness of the crime and the severity of the punishment.

The Appellant in this case was represented by Advocate Siddhant Sharma.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment


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