Bail discretion power ought not to be used arbitrarily, capriciously & injudiciously: SC

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The Supreme Court said that the high court ought not to have granted bail in view of seriousness of offence, the conduct of accused of extending threats to the complainant and a witness, and the overall impact of the crime on society 

The Supreme Court has emphasised that the grant of bail involves the exercise of a discretionary power that ought not to be used arbitrarily, capriciously; and injudiciously as it cancelled the bail granted by the high court to two accused allegedly involved in broad daylight murder.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Karol and Satish Chandra Sharma allowed an appeal filed by Ramayan Singh against the Allahabad High Court's orders of April 24 and October 31, 2023 granting bail to accused Vivek Pal alias Vikki Pal and Punit Pal respectively.

According to the FIR, the appellant along with his uncle Jitendra Singh and driver were assaulted by the accused with iron rods, hockey sticks and bats in Basti with an intention to kill him. The deceased succumbed to injuries sustained on February 10, 2022.

In his arguments, the appellant contended the high court ought not to have exercised its jurisdiction to grant bail to the two accused as charges had been framed against them, and murder weapons were recovered. He also claimed there was a real and probable threat qua the ability to influence witnesses in light of the overwhelming materials.

The appellant also claimed that the accused extended threats to an identified witness and the appellant by misusing their liberty.

The state counsel supported the contention by submitting that the two accused were also being prosecuted under the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and AntiSocial Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.

The bench cited 'Prasanta Kumar Sarkar Vs Ashis Chatterjee', (2010) which enunciated certain parameters on which the correctness of an order granting bail must be evaluated. It also referred to 'Mahipal Vs Rajesh Kumar', (2020) which succinctly summarised the position qua interference by this court vis-à-vis an order granting bail.

The court also noted the two accused had been charged under inter alia Sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 504, 506, 427, 394, 411, 302 and 120B IPC on the basis of the materials on record. Furthermore, on two occasions, there had been allegations that the accused persons had attempted to intimidate the appellant i.e., the original complainant and another identified witnesses in an effort to de-rail the trial in the present case. 

"Accordingly, in our considered opinion, the High Court ought not to have granted the accused bail in relation to the proceedings emanating from the FIR on account of (i) the seriousness of the crime; (ii) the conduct of the accused person(s); and (iii) the overall impact of the crime on society at large i.e., the accused person(s) were involved in a broad daylight murder which led to the closure of a market for a prolonged period of 10 days due to their overwhelming influence in the area," the bench said.

The court set aside the high court's orders as those were not sustainable in law. It ordered forthwith custody of the accused.

The court also asked the trial court to complete the proceedings expeditiously preferably within one year.