Somesh chaurasia V State of MP and ors
Criminal Appeal No.590-591 OF 2021 with SLP (Crl) Nos. 4998-4999, Decided on July 22, 2021
BENCH- Hrishikesh Roy and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ.
FACTS– This appeal arises from an order by a Division Bench of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh dated 23 July 2019. The High Court declined to entertain two applications: Interlocutory Application (IA) 6837 of 2019 filed by the State of Madhya Pradesh and IA 5781 of 2019 filed by the appellant seeking a revocation of the suspension of sentence and bail granted to the second respondent.
The second respondent has been convicted of an offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life. By an order dated 3 February 2016, the High Court directed that the sentence shall, during the pendency of the appeal, remain suspended under the provisions of Section 389(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC). Two applications were moved before the Division Bench of the High Court (IA 6837 of 2019 and IA 5781 of 2019) for cancellation of bail and revocation of the order dated 3 February 2016 suspending the sentence of the second respondent. These applications for bail were filed by the appellant and by the State of Madhya Pradesh. The appellant sought cancellation of bail on the ground that after the sentence was suspended, FIR No 143 of 2019 was registered against the second respondent at Police Station Hata, District, Damoh, in which he is implicated in the murder of the appellant’s father. The State of Madhya Pradesh sought cancellation of bail on the ground that: (1) The second respondent has two other convictions against him on a charge of murder; (2) The second respondent has been convicted of another crime for offences punishable under Section 399 and 402 of the IPC and Section 25 (1)(1B)(a) of the Arms Act; and an FIR has been registered at the behest of the appellant alleging that the second respondent is involved in the murder of his father during the period when he was on bail.
ISSUE- Has High Court erred in considering the Interlocutory Application as there is no ground of cancellation of bail is established?
HELD- The Supreme Court held that the High Court has committed a serious error as the Court misapplied itself to the legal principles which must govern such a case. Error of the High Court can be understood from two perspectives. Firstly, the High Court by simply disposing of the IAs seeking cancellation of bail ignored material considerations which ought to have weighed in the decision. Some of the events which have been narrated in the facts have undoubtedly transpired after the order of the High Court. However, taking the position as it stood when the High Court considered the issue, a clear case for cancellation of bail was established. The second aspect which is also of significance is the impact of the order of the High Court. The High Court was apprised of the fact that FIR had been lodged against the second respondent. The investigation into the FIR had to proceed according to law. Instead, the High Court gave a period of ninety days to the police to enquire into the complaint of the second respondent that he was being targeted and allowed the police to thereafter proceed in accordance with law. This order had the effect of obstructing a fair investigation into the FIR at the behest of the accused despite the nature and gravity of the allegations against him. The events which have transpired since go to emphasize the fact that the High Court was in grievous error in passing its directions which were misused to defeat the investigation. The police submitted a closure report absolving the second respondent. Thereafter, despite the order under section 319 CrPC, the second respondent evaded arrested in contravention of the warrant of arrest which was issued by the Additional Session Judge (ASJ). The facts of the judgment indicate that the police have been complicit in shielding the second respondent.
The material on the record indicates that an effort has been made to shield the accused from the administration of criminal justice. The apprehensions expressed by the ASJ in his order of the machinations of a highly influential accused evading the process of law are amply borne out by the facts which have been revealed before this Court. The Supreme Court accordingly order and direct that the order of the High Court dated 23 July 2019 shall stand set aside. IA Nos. 6837 and 5781 of 2019 shall in the circumstances stand allowed. The bail granted to the second respondent shall stand cancelled. Court also direct that the second respondent shall be moved under the directions of the Director General of Police (DGP) to another jail in Madhya Pradesh to ensure that the fair course of the criminal proceedings is not deflected.