Jagjeet Singh & Ors vs Ashish Mishra @ Monu & Anr - Bail Case - Supreme Court Decision

Jagjeet Singh & Ors vs Ashish Mishra @ Monu & Anr - Bail Case - Supreme Court Decision - 


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.632 of 2022
[Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No. 2640 of 2022]
Jagjeet Singh & Ors ..... Appellant(s)
                                       VERSUS
Ashish Mishra @ Monu & Anr ..... Respondent
JUDGEMENT
Surya Kant, J:
Leave Granted.
2. The challenge is laid to an order dated 10.02.2022 passed by the
High   Court   of   Judicature   at   Allahabad,   Lucknow   bench,   whereby
Respondent   No.1   (hereinafter­“Respondent­Accused”),   has   been
enlarged on bail in a case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 302, 307,
326 read with Sections 34 and 120­B  of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
(hereinafter­ “IPC”), as well as Sections 3, 25 and 30 of the Arms Act,
1959.
    FACTS
3. In brief, it is alleged that several farmers had gathered in the
Khairaitya   village   in   Lakhimpur   Kheri   District   on   29.09.2021,   to
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celebrate the birth anniversary of Sardar Bhagat Singh and to protest
against the Indian Agricultural Acts of 2020. During this gathering,
the farmers objected to certain comments made by Mr. Ajay Mishra @
Teni, Union Minister of State for Home. In the course of the meeting,
the farmers decided to organise a protest against Mr. Ajay Mishra in
his ancestral village on 03.10.2021. Various farmers’ organisations
issued appeals to their members and supporters to participate in the
demonstration, and pamphlets were also distributed. 
4. On 03.10.2021, an annual Dangal (wrestling) competition was
being organised by Ashish Mishra @ Monu, i.e., Respondent­Accused.
The program was to be attended by Mr. Ajay Mishra, as well as Mr.
Keshav Prasad Maurya, Deputy Chief Minister of the State of Uttar
Pradesh, for whom a helipad was constructed in the playground of
Maharaja Agrasen Inter College, Tikonia. A crowd of farmers started
gathering near the helipad in the morning of 03.10.2021. The route of
the Chief Guest was thus changed to take him by road. But the
changed road route was also passing in front of the Maharaja Agrasen
Inter College, where the protesting farmers had been gathering in large
numbers. This led the authorities to take recourse to yet another
alternative way to reach the Dangal venue. 
5. In the meantime, some supporters of Respondent No.1, who were
travelling by a car to the Dangal venue, were statedly attacked by
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certain   farmers.   The   mirrors   of   their   vehicle(s)   were   smashed.   A
hoarding board that displayed pictures of Mr. Ajay Mishra and the
Respondent­Accused   was   also   damaged.   It   is   alleged   that   upon
gathering knowledge of these events, coupled with the information
that the route of the Chief Guest had to be changed because of the
protesting   farmers,   Respondent­Accused   became   agitated.   He,
thereafter, is said to have conspired with his aides and confidants,
and decided to teach the protesting farmers a lesson. Respondent No.1
and   his   aides,   armed   with   weapons,   left   the   Dangal   venue   in   a
Mahindra Thar SUV, a Fortuner vehicle and a Scorpio vehicle, and
drove towards the farmers’ protest site. 
6. When   the   farmers   were   returning   to   their   homes   after   their
protest was over, Respondent­Accused along with his associates who
were in the aforesaid three vehicles, allegedly drove into the crowd of
the   returning   farmers   and   hit   them   with   an   intention   to   kill.
Resultantly, many farmers and other persons were crushed by the
vehicles. The Thar vehicle was eventually stopped. Respondent No.1
and his co­accused Sumit Jaiswal then stepped out of the Thar and
escaped by running towards a nearby sugarcane field while taking
cover by firing their weapons. 
7. As a consequence of this incident, four farmers, one journalist,
the driver of the Thar Vehicle­Hariom, and two others, were killed.
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Nearly ten farmers suffered major and minor injuries.   
8. In  the early hours  of  04.10.2021,  FIR no.  219 of 2021 was
registered on the complaint of the Appellant No.1, i.e, Jagjeet Singh, at
Police Station Tikonia against Respondent No.1 and 15­20 unknown
persons, for causing the death of four farmers. It was alleged that
Respondent No.1 along with his accomplices drove into the crowd of
protesting farmers and crushed them. It was further alleged that one
Sukhvinder Singh died on the spot due to a fire arm injury. Another
FIR1
 was registered by Sumit Jaiswal against unknown persons and
protesting   farmers   for   having   killed   four   persons,   including   the
journalist Raman Kashyap, the driver of the Thar vehicle­Hariom and
two other supporters of the Respondent­Accused. 
9. Meanwhile,   a   PIL   was   filed   in   this   Court   expressing   serious
concerns regarding the fairness of the investigation into the incidents
of 03.10.2021. This Court, on 17.11.2021, reconstituted the SIT and
new members were inducted to carry out the investigation. Justice
(Retd.)   Rakesh   Kumar   Jain,   a   former   Judge   of   the   Punjab   and
Haryana High Court, was appointed to monitor the investigation. The
reconstituted   SIT   filed   a   chargesheet   on   03.01.2022,   wherein,   the
Respondent­Accused  was found to  be the main perpetrator of the
events that took place on 03.10.2021. 
1 FIR No. 220 of 2021 was registered under Sections 147, 323, 324, 336 and 302 of the IPC.
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10. The Accused­Respondent moved an application for bail before
the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench. Vide the
impugned order dated 10.02.2022 (corrected on 14.02.2022), the High
Court   allowed   the   application   and   granted   regular   bail   to   the
Respondent­Accused.  The relief was primarily granted on four counts.
Firstly,   the   Court   held   that   the   primary   allegation   against   the
Respondent­Accused was of firing his weapon and causing gunshot
injuries,   but   neither   the   inquest   reports   nor   the   injury   reports
revealed any firearm injury, therefore, the High Court opined that the
present case was one of “accident   by   hitting   with   the   vehicle”.
Secondly, the allegation that he provoked the driver of the car could
not be sustained since the driver along with two others, who were in
the vehicle, were killed by the protesters. Thirdly, it was noted that the
Respondent­Accused had joined the investigation. Fourthly, the charge
sheet had been filed. 
11. Discontented with the order of the High Court, the aggrieved
‘victims’ are before us. 
    CONTENTIONS
12. Shri Dushyant Dave, learned Senior Counsel on behalf of the
Appellants vehemently contended that the High Court had erred in
overlooking   several   important   aspects,   and   instead   placed   undue
weightage   on   issues   such   as   the   absence   of   any   fire   arm   injury.
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Relying upon the decision of this in Court in the case of Mahipal v.
Rajesh  Kumar  &  Anr.2
, it was canvassed that the High Court had
disregarded   well­established   principles   that   govern   the   Court’s
discretion at the time of granting bail. It was further pressed that the
bail order was passed in a mechanical manner with non­application of
mind, rendering it illegal and liable to be set aside. The learned Senior
Counsel   also   pointed   out   that   during   the   course   of   the   online
proceedings, counsel for the Complainant/victims were disconnected,
and   were   not   heard   by   the   High   Court.   It   was   stated   that   their
application for re­hearing the bail application was also not considered
by the High Court. Learned Senior Counsel also drew our attention to
FIR No. 46 of 2022, which was filed by one Diljot Singh, a witness to
the incident of 03.10.2021. The said witness therein claimed that on
10.03.2022, he was threatened and attacked by the supporters of the
Respondent­Accused. Alternatively, emphasis was placed on judgment
of this Court in Alister Anthony Pariera v. State of Maharashtra3
,
to highlight that if an act of rash and negligent driving was preceded
by real intention on the part of the wrong doer to cause death, then a
charge under section 302 IPC may be attracted. 
13. On the other hand, Shri Ranjit Kumar, learned Senior Counsel
appearing on behalf of the Respondent No.1, vigorously defended the
2
 (2020) 2 SCC 118 ¶ 12 & 13 
3
(2012) 2 SCC 648 ¶ 47
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judgment   of   the   High   Court.   It   was   submitted   that   given   the
allegations made in FIR No. 219 of 2021, the High Court was bound to
prima facie  consider the issue of bullet injuries. He further asserted
that the Respondent­Accused was never in the Thar vehicle and was
instead at the Dangal venue. Lastly, learned Senior Counsel argued
that in the event that this Court was to set aside the impugned order
and cancel the bail, the Respondent accused would be left without any
remedy and it would be nearly impossible for him to be released on
bail till the conclusion of trial. 
14. Shri Mahesh Jethmalani, learned Senior Counsel appearing for
Respondent No.2, i.e., State of Uttar Pradesh, at the outset argued
that a bail hearing should not be converted into a mini trail. He urged
that the Court ought to consider three basic parameters at the time of
deciding bail­ (i) the possibility of tampering with evidence; (ii) whether
the accused would be a flight risk; & (iii) the nature of the offense.
With respect to the first consideration, it was highlighted that the
State Government, under the ambit of the Witness Protection Scheme,
2018, had provided adequate security, including armed personnel, to
all the ‘victims’ and witnesses. It was explained that the State was
regularly following up with the witnesses and that the possibility of the
accused  tampering  with  any  witness,  was  narrow.  Learned  Senior
Counsel   further   submitted   that   given   the   local   roots   of   the
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Respondent­Accused, he could not be considered as a flight risk. Shri
Jethmalani, however, stated  that  the  nature of the  offense  in the
present case was grave. He clarified that the State had vehemently
opposed the bail application before the High Court and in no manner,
does it deviate from its previous stand. 
    ANALYSIS
15. Having   heard   learned   Senior   Counsels   for   the   parties   at
considerable length, we find that the following questions fall for our
consideration:­
A. Whether a ‘victim’ as defined under Section 2(wa) of the Code
of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter, “Cr.P.C.”) is entitled
to be heard at the stage of adjudication of bail application of
an accused?
B. Whether   the   High   Court   overlooked   the   relevant
considerations   while   passing   the   impugned   order   granting
bail to the Respondent­Accused?; and 
C. If so, whether the High Court’s order dated 10.02.2022 is
palpably illegal and warrants interference by this Court?
A. Victim’s right to be heard: 
16. Until recently, criminal law had been viewed on a dimensional
plane wherein the Courts were required to adjudicate between the
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accused and the State. The ‘victim’ — the de facto sufferer of a crime
had no participation in the adjudicatory process and was made to sit
outside the Court as a mute spectator. However, with the recognition
that the ethos of criminal justice dispensation to prevent and punish
‘crime’   had   surreptitiously   turned   its   back   on   the   ‘victim’,   the
jurisprudence with respect to the rights of victims to be heard and to
participate in criminal proceedings began to positively evolve.
17. Internationally, the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice
for the Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985, which was adopted
vide the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 40/34, was a
landmark   in   boosting   the   pro­victim   movement.   The   Declaration
defined a ‘victim’ as someone who has suffered harm, physical or
mental   injury,   emotional   suffering,   economic   loss,   impairment   of
fundamental rights through acts or omissions that are in violation of
criminal   laws   operative   within   a   State,   regardless   of   whether   the
perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted, and
regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the
‘victim’. Other international bodies, such as the European Union, also
took great strides in granting and protecting the rights of ‘victims’
through various Covenants4
4
The position of a victim in the framework of Criminal Law and Procedure, Council of
Europe Committee of Ministers to Member States, 1985; Strengthening victim's right in the
EU communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the
Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Reasons, European Union, 2011;
Proposal   for   a   Directive   of   the   European   Parliament   and   of   the   Council   establishing
“Minimum Standards on the Rights, Support and Protection of Victims of Crime, European
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18. Amongst other nations, the United States of America had also
made two enactments on the subject i.e. (i) The Victims of Crime Act,
1984 under which legal assistance is granted to the crime­victims; and
(ii) The Victims' Rights and Restitution Act of 1990. This was followed
by meaningful amendments, repeal and insertion of new provisions in
both   the   Statutes   through   an   Act   passed   by   the   House   of
Representatives as well as the Senate. In Australia, the Legislature has
enacted South Australia Victims of Crime Act, 2001. While in Canada
there is the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Most of these legislations
have defined the ‘victim’ of a crime liberally and have conferred varied
rights on such victims.
19. On the domestic front, recent amendments to the Cr.P.C. have
recognised a victim’s rights in the Indian criminal justice system.  The
genesis of such rights lies in the 154th Report of the Law Commission
of   India,   wherein,   radical   recommendations   on   the   aspect   of
compensatory justice to a victim under a compensation scheme were
made.   Thereafter, a Committee on the Reforms of Criminal Justice
System in its Report in 2003, suggested ways and means to develop a
cohesive system in which all parts are to work in coordination to
achieve the common goal of restoring the lost confidence of the people
in   the   criminal   justice   system.   The   Committee   recommended   the
Union, 2011.
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rights of the victim or his/her legal representative “to be impleaded
as   a   party   in   every   criminal   proceeding   where   the   charges
punishable with seven years’ imprisonment or more”.  
20. It was further recommended that the victim be armed with a
right to be represented by an advocate of his/her choice, and if he/she
is not in a position to afford the same, to provide an advocate at the
State’s expense.  The victim’s right to participate in criminal trial and
his/her right to know the status of investigation, and take necessary
steps, or to be heard at every crucial stage of the criminal proceedings,
including at the time of grant or cancellation of bail, were also duly
recognised by the Committee. Repeated judicial intervention, coupled
with the recommendations made from time to time as briefly noticed
above,   prompted   the   Parliament   to   bring   into   force   the   Code   of
Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008, which not only inserted
the definition of a ‘victim’ under Section 2 (wa) but also statutorily
recognised various rights of such victims at different stages of trial. 
21. It is pertinent to mention that the legislature has thoughtfully
given a wide and expansive meaning to the expression ‘victim’ which
“means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by
reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has
been   charged and   the   expression   “victim”   includes   his   or   her
guardian or legal heir”
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22. This   Court,   in  Mallikarjun   Kodagali   (Dead)   v.   State   of
Karnataka & Ors5
, while dealing with questions regarding a victim’s
right to file an appeal under section 372 of Cr.P.C, observed that there
was   need   to   give   adequate   representation   to   victims   in   criminal
proceedings. The Court therein affirmed the victim’s right to file an
appeal   against   an   order   of   acquittal.   In  Mallikarjun   Kodagali,
though the Court was primarily concerned with a different legal issue,
it will be fruitful in the present context to take note of some of the
observations made therein:
“3. What follows in a trial is often secondary victimisation
through repeated appearances in court in a hostile or a semihostile   environment   in   the   courtroom.   Till   sometime   back,
secondary victimisation was in the form of aggressive and
intimidating   cross­examination,   but   a   more   humane
interpretation of the provisions of the Evidence Act, 1872 has
made the trial a little less uncomfortable for the victim of an
offence,   particularly   the   victim   of   a   sexual   crime.   In   this
regard, the judiciary has been proactive in ensuring that the
rights of victims are addressed, but a lot more needs to be
done. Today, the rights of an accused far outweigh the rights
of the victim of an offence in many respects. There needs to
be some balancing of the concerns and equalising their rights
so   that   the   criminal   proceedings   are   fair   to   both.   [Girish
Kumar Suneja v. CBI, (2017) 14 SCC 809 : (2018) 1 SCC (Cri)
202]……
xxx
8. The rights of victims, and indeed victimology, is an
evolving jurisprudence and it is more than appropriate
to  move   forward   in  a  positive  direction,   rather   than
stand still or worse, take a step backward. A voice has
5
(2019) 2 SCC 752, ¶ 3 & 8
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been  given  to victims of crime by Parliament and the
judiciary and that voice needs to be heard, and if not
already heard, it needs to be raised to a higher decibel
so that it is clearly heard.”
      (Emphasis Supplied)
23. It   cannot   be   gainsaid   that   the   right   of   a   victim   under   the
amended Cr.P.C. are substantive, enforceable, and are another facet of
human rights.   The victim’s right, therefore, cannot be termed or
construed restrictively like a brutum fulmen.  We reiterate that these
rights are totally independent, incomparable, and are not accessory or
auxiliary to those of the State under the Cr.P.C. The presence of ‘State’
in the proceedings, therefore, does not tantamount to according a
hearing to a ‘victim’ of the crime.
24. A ‘victim’ within the meaning of Cr.P.C. cannot be asked to await
the commencement of trial for asserting his/her right to participate in
the proceedings. He/She has a legally vested right to be heard at every
step post the occurrence of an offence. Such a ‘victim’ has unbridled
participatory rights from the stage of investigation till the culmination
of the proceedings in an appeal or revision. We may hasten to clarify
that   ‘victim’   and   ‘complainant/informant’   are   two   distinct
connotations in criminal jurisprudence. It is not always necessary that
the complainant/informant is also a ‘victim’, for even a stranger to the
act of crime can be an ‘informant’, and similarly, a ‘victim’ need not be
the complainant or informant of a felony. 
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25.   The above stated enunciations are not to be conflated with
certain statutory provisions, such as those present in Special Acts like
the Scheduled Cast and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)
Act, 1989, where there is a legal obligation to hear the victim at the
time of granting bail. Instead, what must be taken note of is that;
First, the Indian jurisprudence is constantly evolving, whereby, the
right of victims to be heard, especially in cases involving heinous
crimes, is increasingly being acknowledged; Second, where the victims
themselves have come forward to participate in a criminal proceeding,
they must be accorded with an opportunity of a fair and effective
hearing.   If   the   right   to   file   an   appeal   against   acquittal,   is   not
accompanied with the right to be heard at the time of deciding a bail
application,   the   same   may   result   in   grave   miscarriage   of   justice.
Victims certainly cannot be expected to be sitting on the fence and
watching the proceedings from afar, especially when they may have
legitimate grievances. It is the solemn duty of a court to deliver justice
before the memory of an injustice eclipses.
26. Adverting to the case at hand, we are constrained to express our
disappointment with the manner in which the High Court has failed to
acknowledge the right of the victims. It is worth mentioning that, the
complainant in FIR No. 219 of 2021, as well as the present Appellants,
are close relatives of the farmers who have lost their lives in the
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incident   dated   03.10.2021.   The   specific   stance   taken   by   learned
Senior Counsel for the Appellants that the Counsel for the ‘victims’
had got disconnected from the online proceedings and could not make
effective submissions before the High Court has not been controverted
by the Respondents. Thereafter, an application seeking a rehearing on
the ground that the ‘victims’ could not participate in the proceedings
was also moved but it appears that the same was not considered by
the High Court while granting bail to the Respondent­Accused. 
27. We, therefore, answer question (A) in the affirmative, and hold
that in the present case, the ‘victims’ have been denied a fair and
effective   hearing   at   the   time   of   granting   bail   to   the   RespondentAccused. 
B. Whether the High Court overlooked relevant considerations:
28. We may, at the outset, clarify that power to grant bail under
Section 439 of Cr.P.C., is one of wide amplitude. A High Court or a
Sessions Court, as the case may be, are bestowed with considerable
discretion while deciding an application for bail. But, as has been held
by this Court on multiple occasions, this discretion is not unfettered.
On the contrary, the High Court or the Sessions Court must grant bail
after   the   application   of   a   judicial   mind,   following   well­established
principles, and not in a cryptic or mechanical manner. 
29. Ordinarily, this Court would be slow in interfering with any order
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wherein bail has been granted by the Court below. However, if it is
found that such an order is illegal or perverse6
, or is founded upon
irrelevant materials adding vulnerability to the order granting bail7
, an
appellate Court will be well within its ambit in setting aside the same
and cancelling the bail. This position of law has been consistently
reiterated, including in the case of Kanwar Singh Meena v. State of
Rajasthan8
,  wherein  this   Court  set  aside  the   bail  granted  to   the
accused on the premise that relevant considerations and prima facie
material against the accused were ignored. It was held that: 
“10….Each   criminal   case   presents   its   own   peculiar   factual
scenario and, therefore, certain grounds peculiar to a particular
case may have to be taken into account by the court. The court has
to only opine as to whether there is prima facie case against the
accused. The court must not undertake meticulous examination of
the evidence collected by the police and comment on the same.
Such assessment of evidence and premature comments are likely
to deprive the accused of a fair trial.…The  High  Court  or  the
Sessions Court can cancel the bail even in cases where the
order   granting   bail   suffers   from   serious   infirmities
resulting in miscarriage of justice. If the court granting bail
ignores   relevant   materials   indicating   prima   facie
involvement of the accused or takes into account irrelevant
material, which has no relevance to the question of grant of
bail  to  the  accused,  the  High  Court  or  the  Sessions  Court
would  be   justified   in  cancelling  the  bail.  Such  orders  are
against the well­recognised principles underlying the power
6 Puran v. Rambilas & Anr., (2001) 6 SCC 338, ¶10
7 Narendra K. Amin (Dr.) v. State of Gujarat & Anr., (2008) 13 SCC 584, ¶ 25
8
(2012) 12 SCC 180, ¶ 10
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to grant bail. Such orders are legally infirm and vulnerable
leading   to   miscarriage   of   justice   and   absence   of
supervening   circumstances   such  as   the   propensity   of   the
accused  to  tamper  with  the  evidence,  to  flee  from   justice,
etc. would not deter the court from cancelling the bail. The
High  Court  or  the  Sessions  Court   is  bound  to  cancel  such
bail orders particularly when they are passed releasing the
accused involved in heinous crimes because they ultimately
result in weakening the prosecution case and have adverse
impact   on   the   society.   Needless   to   say   that   though   the
powers of this Court are much wider, this Court is equally
guided   by   the  above   principles   in   the  matter   of   grant   or
cancellation of bail.”
         (Emphasis Supplied)
30. It will be beneficial at this stage to recapitulate the principles
that a Court must bear in mind while deciding an application for grant
of bail. This Court in the case of Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis
Chatterjee  &   Anr.9
,  after taking  into  account  several  precedents,
elucidated the following:
“9…However, it is equally incumbent upon the High Court to
exercise its discretion judiciously, cautiously and strictly in
compliance   with   the   basic   principles   laid   down   in   a
plethora  of  decisions  of  this  Court  on  the point.  It  is  well
settled that, among other circumstances, the factors to be
borne in mind while considering an application for bail are:
(i) whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground
to believe that the accused had committed the offence;
(ii) nature and gravity of the accusation;
9
 (2010) 14 SCC 496, ¶ 9 & 10
Page | 17
(iii) severity of the punishment in the event of conviction;
(iv) danger   of   the   accused   absconding   or   fleeing,   if
released on bail;
(v) character, behaviour, means, position and standing of
the accused;
(vi) likelihood of the offence being repeated;
(vii) reasonable   apprehension   of   the   witnesses   being
influenced; and
(viii) danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of
bail.”
(Emphasis Supplied)
31. The Court in Prasanta Kumar Sarkar went on to note: 
“10. It is manifest that if the High Court does not advert to
these relevant considerations and mechanically grants bail,
the said order would suffer from the vice of non­application
of mind, rendering it to be illegal. In Masroor [(2009) 14 SCC
286   :  (2010)  1   SCC  (Cri)  1368]   ,  a  Division   Bench   of   this
Court,   of  which   one   of   us   (D.K.   Jain,   J.)   was   a  member,
observed as follows : (SCC p. 290, para 13)
“13.   …   Though   at   the   stage   of   granting   bail   an   elaborate
examination of evidence and detailed reasons touching the merit of
the case, which may prejudice the accused, should be avoided, but
there is a need to indicate in such order reasons for prima facie
concluding  why bail was  being granted  particularly where the
accused is charged of having committed a serious offence.”
(Emphasis Supplied)
Page | 18
32. The aforestated principles have been affirmed and restated in a
number of subsequent decisions, including in the recent judgments of
Neeru Yadav v. State of U.P. & Anr.10
, Anil Kumar Yadav v. State
(NCT of Delhi) & Anr.,
11 and Mahipal v. Rajesh Kumar & Anr.12
.
33. Before dealing with the case at hand, we may, at the cost of
repetition, emphasise that a Court while deciding an application for
bail,   should   refrain   from   evaluating   or   undertaking   a   detailed
assessment of evidence, as the same is not a relevant consideration at
the threshold stage. While a Court may examine  prima facie  issues,
including any reasonable grounds whether the accused committed an
offence or the severity of the offence itself, an extensive consideration
of merits which has the potential to prejudice either the case of the
prosecution   or   the   defence,   is   undesirable.   It   is   thus   deemed
appropriate to outrightly clarify that neither have we considered the
merits of the case nor are we inclined to comment on the evidence
collected by the SIT in the present case. 
34. We may now briefly note the holding of the High Court as is
manifest from paragraph 25 of the impugned order which reads as
follows:  
“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case in toto, it is
evidence that as per the F.I.R., role of firing was assigned to the
10 (2014) 16 SCC 508, ¶ 11
11 (2018) 12 SCC 129, ¶ 17 & 18
12 (2020) 2 SCC 118, ¶ 13
Page | 19
applicant   for   killing   the   protestors,   but   during   the   course   of
investigation, no such firearm injuries were found either on the
body of any of the deceased or on the body of any injured person.
Thereafter, the prosecution alleged that the applicant provoked the
driver of the vehicle for crushing the protestors, however, the driver
along with two others, who were in the vehicle, has been killed by
the   protestors.   It   is   further   evidence   that   during   the   course   of
investigation, notice was issued to the applicant and he appeared
before the Investigation Officer. It is also evidence that charge
sheet has already been filed. In such circumstances, this Court is
of the view that the applicant is entitled to be released on bail.” 
35. We find ourselves in agreement with the learned Senior Counsel
for the Appellants that the High Court has completely lost sight of the
principles enumerated above, which conventionally govern a Court’s
discretion when deciding the question whether or not to grant bail.
Instead of looking into aspects such as the nature and gravity of the
offence;   severity   of   the   punishment   in   the   event   of   conviction;
circumstances which are peculiar to the accused or victims; likelihood
of the accused fleeing; likelihood of tampering with the evidence and
witnesses and the impact that his release may have on the trial and
the society at large; the High Court has adopted a myopic view of the
evidence on the record and proceeded to decide the case on merits. 
36. The   High   Court   has   taken   into   account   several   irrelevant
considerations, whilst simultaneously ignoring judicial precedents and
established   parameters   for   grant   of   bail.   It   has   been   ruled   on
Page | 20
numerous   occasions   that   a   F.I.R.   cannot   be   treated   as   an
encyclopaedia of events. While the allegations in the F.I.R., that the
accused used his firearm and the subsequent post mortem and injury
reports may have some limited bearing, there was no legal necessity to
give undue  weightage  to  the  same.  Moreover, the  observations  on
merits of a case when the trial has yet to commence, are likely to have
an impact on the outcome of the trial proceedings.
37. Keeping   all   these   factors   cumulatively   in   mind,   we   have   no
difficulty in answering question (B) also in the affirmative. It is held
that   the   order   under   challenge   does   not   conform   to   the   relevant
considerations. 
C. Whether interference is warranted by this Court:
38. As a natural and consequential corollary to the findings under
questions (A) & (B) above, the impugned order of the High Court dated
10.2.2022 (as corrected on 14.2.2022) cannot be sustained and has to
be set aside.  Ordered accordingly.
39. As a sequel thereto, bail bonds of the respondent/accused are
cancelled and he is directed to surrender within a week.
40. Having held so, we cannot be oblivious to what has been urged
on behalf of the Respondent­Accused that cancellation of bail by this
Court is likely to be construed as an indefinite foreclosure of his right
to seek bail.  It is not necessary to dwell upon the wealth of case law
Page | 21
which, regardless of the stringent provisions in a penal law or the
gravity of the offence, has time and again recognised the legitimacy of
seeking liberty from incarceration. To put it differently, no accused
can be subjected to unending detention pending trial, especially when
the law presumes him to be innocent until proven guilty. Even where
statutory provisions expressly bar the grant of bail, such as in cases
under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, this Court has
expressly ruled that after a reasonably long period of incarceration, or
for any other valid reason, such stringent provisions will melt down,
and   cannot   be   measured   over   and   above   the   right   of   liberty
guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution (See Union of India
v. K.A. Najeeb, (2021) 3 SCC 713, ¶ 15 & 17). 
41. We are, thus, of the view that this Court on account of the
factors like (i) irrelevant considerations having impacted the impugned
order granting bail; (ii) the High Court exceeding its jurisdiction by
touching upon the merits of the case; (iii) denial of victims’ right to
participate in the proceedings; and (iv) the tearing hurry shown by the
High Court in entertaining or granting bail to the respondent/accused;
can   rightfully   cancel   the   bail,   without   depriving   the   RespondentAccused of his legitimate right to seek enlargement on bail on relevant
considerations. 
Page | 22
42.   We are thus inclined to allay the apprehension in the mind of
learned   Senior   Counsel   for   the   Respondent­Accused   that   the
cancellation of bail by this Court shall amount to denial bail to the
Respondent­Accused till conclusion of the trial. 
43. This Court is tasked with ensuring that neither the right of an
accused to seek bail pending trial is expropriated, nor the ‘victim’ or
the State are denuded of their right to oppose such a prayer. In a
situation like this, and with a view to balance the competing rights,
this Court has been invariably remanding the matter(s) back to the
High Court for a fresh consideration.13 We are also of the considered
view that ends of justice would be adequately met by remitting this
case to the High Court for a fresh adjudication of the bail application
of   the   Respondent­Accused,   in   a   fair,   impartial   and   dispassionate
manner, and keeping in view the settled parameters which have been
elaborated in paragraphs 30  & 31 of this order. 
44.   Needless to say that the bail application shall be decided on
merits and after giving adequate opportunity of hearing to the victims
as well.  If the victims are unable to engage the services of a private
counsel, it shall be obligatory upon the High Court to provide them a
legal aid counsel with adequate experience in criminal law, at the
State’s expense.
13 Naresh Pal Singh v. Raj Karan and Anr, (1999) 9 SCC 104, ¶2; Brij Nandan Jaiswal v. 
Munna alias Munna Jaiswal & Anr, (2009) 1 SCC 678, ¶ 12 & 13; Hari Om Yadav v. Dinesh
Singh Jaat & Anr, 2013 SCC Online SC 610, ¶ 6.
Page | 23
45. Lastly, in furtherance of the order of this court dated 26.10.2021
in Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 426/2021, and keeping in mind the
allegations   of   the   Appellants   with   respect   to   the   incident   dated
10.03.2022, we deem it appropriate to observe that if the aforestated
incident, has happened in the manner as alleged, the same should
serve   as   an   awakening   call   to   the   State   authorities   to   reinforce
adequate   protection   for   the   life,   liberty,   and   properties   of   the
eye/injured witnesses, as well as for the families of the deceased.
    CONCLUSION
46. We set aside the impugned order dated 10.02.2022 (corrected on
14.2.2022) and remit the matter back to the High Court. Respondent
No.1 shall surrender and be taken into custody as already directed in
paragraph 39 above. We have not expressed any opinion either on
facts or merits, and all questions of law are left open for the High
Court to consider and decide. The High Court shall decide the bail
application   afresh  expeditiously,   and  preferably  within   a  period  of
three months.  The appeal is disposed of in the above terms.
………………………….. CJI.
(N.V. RAMANA)
…….……..………………… J.
(SURYA KANT)
………….…………………...J.
(HIMA KOHLI)
NEW DELHI
DATED : 18.04.2022
Page | 24

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