Hariram Bhambhi vs Satyanarayan on 29 October, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Hariram Bhambhi vs Satyanarayan on 29 October, 2021

Author: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud

Bench: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud, B.V. Nagarathna

                                                                                           Reportable

                                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                          Criminal Appeal No. 1278 of 2021




          Hariram Bhambhi                                                         … Appellant



                                                       Versus

          Satyanarayan & Anr.                                                    … Respondents




                                                   JUDGMENT

Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J

1. Leave granted.

2. On 9 June 2018, the appellant lodged a report at Police Station Kishangarh,

District Ajmer on the basis of which FIR No.116/2018 for offences punishable under

Sections 302 and 201 of the Penal Code was registered. In his complaint, the

appellant stated that on 8 June 2018, his younger brother Ram Niwas had gone out
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by

for carrying out labour work. The appellant was informed by his mother that evening
Sanjay Kumar
Date: 2021.10.29
19:45:51 IST
Reason:

that Ram Niwas was away to meet his brother-in–law, Kishan Lal, and that he would

1
not return for the day. On 9 June 2018, Ram Niwas’s spouse informed the appellant

that her brother Kishan Lal had taken Ram Niwas in a vehicle at about 3.00 o’clock.

The local residents informed the appellant that the dead body of Ram Niwas was

thrown out of a vehicle at a specified place in the area of Police Station Kishangarh.

Investigation commenced on the basis of the report lodged by the appellant. Since

the deceased belonged to a Scheduled Caste, offences punishable under the

Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 19891

were added. The first respondent was arrested. On 6 September 2018, a final

report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure2 was submitted by the

Investigating Officer against Kishan Lal and three other accused of which the first

respondent was named as A-4.

3. Aggrieved by the rejection of his application for bail by the Sessions Court,

the first respondent moved the High Court of Rajasthan seeking enlargement on

bail 3. The complainant was represented by counsel, notice having been given to

him under sub-sections (3) and (5) of 15A of the SC/ST Act. The appeal was

withdrawn on 8 August 2019.

4. On 25 September 2019, the first respondent instituted an application 4 before

the Special Judge, SC/ST (Atrocities Prevention Cases) Ajmer for the grant of bail.

The application for bail was rejected by the Special Judge by an order dated 25

September 2019. The Special Judge noted that the statements of five witnesses –

1
“SC/ST Act”
2
“CrPC”
3
S.B. Criminal Appeal No.1132/2019
4
Criminal Miscellaneous Case No.1253/2019

2
PW.1 Suresh, PW.2 Smt. Aaram Devi, PW.3 Hari Ram, PW.4 Ramshankar and

PW.5 Gokul Singh were recorded, but certain crucial witnesses were yet to be

examined. Consequently, the second bail application submitted by the first

respondent was rejected. The first respondent instituted an appeal5 before the High

Court against the rejection of a second application for bail. No notice was issued to

the appellant under the provisions of Section 15A of the SC/ST Act.

5. On 7 November 2019, the High Court heard arguments in the appellate

proceedings 6 when it was submitted by counsel for the first respondent that PW.2,

the wife of the deceased, had stated that the deceased had accompanied his

brother-in-law (co-accused Kishan Lal), who had taken an insurance policy in the

name of the deceased and that it was Kishan Lal who had committed the murder

with the help of his friends to obtain the proceeds of the insurance policy. After

recording the above submission of the first respondent, the High Court enlarged the

first respondent on bail by its order dated 7 November 2019. The order of the High

Court reads thus:

“1. The present criminal appeal under Section 14(A)(2) of
the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has been filed in
connection with FIR No.116/2018 registered at Police Station
Kishangarh District Ajmer for the offences under Sections 302
& 201 of IPC and 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Act.

2. Counsel for the appellant submits that the appellant
has been falsely implicated in this matter. Counsel further
submits that the wife of the deceased Smt. Aaram Devi (PW-

2) in her statement recorded during trial has stated that the
deceased went with her brother co-accused Kishan Lal who
he has taken insurance policy in the name of her husband

5
S.B. Criminal Appeal No.2518/2019
6
S.B. Criminal Appeal No.2518/2019

3
and he also purchased the trailer on being financed in the
name of her husband and for taking amount of insurance
policy Kishan Lal committed murder of her husband with the
help of his friends. Counsel further submits that no allegation
has been levelled by her in the statement against the
appellant and the appellant is behind the bars since
11.06.2018.

3. Learned Public Prosecutor has opposed the appeal.

4. Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the
case, it would be just and expedient to order the release of
the appellant on bail.

5. The order dated 25.09.2019 passed by the learned
Special Judge, SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Cases), Ajmer
is quashed and set-aside and this appeal is accordingly
allowed and it is directed that accused appellant
Satyanarayan s/o Shri Sohandas shall be released on bail
provided he furnishes a personal bond in the sum of
Rs.50,000/- (Rupees Fifty Thousand Only) together with two
sureties in the sum of Rs.25,000/- (Rupees Twenty Five
Thousand Only) each to the satisfaction of the learned Trial
Court with the stipulation that he shall appear before that
Court and any Court to which the matter is transferred, on all
subsequent dates of hearing and as and when called upon to
do so.”

6. The appellant moved the High Court under Section 439(2) of CrPC for

cancellation of bail. 7 In the meantime, another Single Judge of the High Court, by

an order dated 29 January 2021 rejected the application for bail filed by three co-

accused – Kalu Ram, Kishan Lal and Chaman Lal. The application for cancellation

of bail before the High Court was moved principally on the ground that no notice was

issued to the appellant under sub-section (3) of Section 15A of the SC/ST Act,

resultingly no opportunity to be heard was provided under sub-section (5) of Section

15A. The Single Judge who had admitted the first respondent to bail on 7

7
S.B. Criminal Bail Cancellation Application No.21/2020

4
November 2019 rejected the application on the ground that since the appellant was

being heard in the application for cancelling bail, the requirements of sub-sections

(3) and (5) of Section 15A were complied with. The High Court observed:

“So far as compliance of Section 15A (3)(5) of SC/ST is
concerned, this Court today heard counsel for the
complainant-petitioner again on merits, therefore, requirement
of issuing notice to the complainant-petitioner (victim) as
provided under Section 15A (3)(5) of the SC/ST Act is being
complied with.

The order dated 07.11.2019 was passed by this Court after
considering the statement of PW-2, Smt. Aaram Devi, wife of
the deceased, therefore, I see no reason for recalling of the
order dated 07.11.2019. As such, this criminal miscellaneous
bail cancellation application is hereby dismissed.”

7. We have heard Mr Ajit Kumar Thakur, learned counsel in support of the

appeal. Mr Manish Sharma, learned counsel has appeared on behalf of the first

respondent while Mr Chetanya Singh, learned counsel has appeared on behalf of

the State of Rajasthan. On behalf of the appellant, it has been submitted that:

(i) There has been a fundamental infraction of the provisions of Section 15A of

the SC/ST Act by the High Court in not issuing notice to the appellant, who in

his capacity as a complainant, was entitled to be heard in any proceeding

under the Act, inter alia, in respect of bail;

(ii) As a matter of fact, in the appeal which had been filed before the High Court

against the rejection of the first bail application by the Special Judge, the

appellant was represented by counsel and that by an order dated 8 August

2019, the appeal was dismissed as not pressed;

5

(iii) The failure to issue a notice to the appellant under sub-sections (3) and (5) of

Section 15A before the grant of bail by the High Court cannot be obviated

subsequently by observing that the appellant was being heard on the

application for cancellation of bail;

(iv) In the order dated 7 November 2019 the Single Judge merely recorded the

statement of counsel for the accused that the spouse of the deceased had in

the course of her statement alleged that the deceased had gone with her

brother who had obtained an insurance policy in the name of the deceased

and it was Kishan Lal, the brother-in-law of the deceased, who had committed

the murder with the help of his friends;

(v) The final report which has been submitted after investigation on 6 September

2018 prima facie reveals the complicity of the first respondent in the murder of

the deceased. The investigation has revealed that the first respondent

together with two of the co-accused participated in the murder and there is a

CCTV camera footage; and

(vi) Besides the statements of the spouse and the mother of the deceased and of

an independent witness under Section 161 CrPC, the call data records of the

accused have been obtained for the period between 1 June 2018 and 11

June 2018. The call data records indicate that all the accused were in close

contact with each other during the said period and proximate to the time of the

6
offence. The call data records also indicate the location of the accused at the

time of the murder.

8. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the first

respondent submitted that:

(i) The order granting bail has relied upon the statement of the spouse of the

deceased that Ram Niwas was murdered by his brother-in-law Kishan Lal

with the help of his friends for obtaining the proceeds of the insurance policy

which was obtained in the name of the deceased and hence the main and

substantive allegation is against Kishan Lal;

(ii) In the event that this Court comes to the conclusion that the appellant ought

to have been heard before the grant of bail, the court may consider

remanding the proceedings back to the High Court; and

(iii) Since his release on 7 November 2019 the first respondent has not committed

any act which would have a detrimental bearing on his liberty.

9. A counter affidavit has been filed on behalf of the State of Rajasthan by the

Additional S.P., Rural District, Ajmer. The affidavit states that during the course of

the investigation it has been revealed that Kishan Lal, the brother-in-law of Ram

Niwas, helped the latter board the vehicle from Vijay Nagar to Bander Sinderi. After

some time, the local residents of Bander Sinderi saw the body of Ram Niwas being

thrown out of the vehicle in front of Gokul Singh Dhaba situated in the Kishangarh

area. Statements of witnesses were recorded under Section 161 CrPC. During the

7
course of the investigation, the provisions of Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act were

added; the accused belongs to the Swarn community while the deceased belonged

to a Scheduled Caste. According to the affidavit, the Safi with which the deceased

was killed in the vehicle was recovered at the behest of the accused, including the

first respondent. Moreover, it has been submitted that the analysis of the call data

records indicates that on 9 June 2018 continuous conversations were found

between the accused at the location near Bandanwada at about 1.00 pm and that

thereafter the location of all the accused including the first respondent was found at

the same place. It has been submitted in the affidavit that the first respondent is a

habitual offender; he was previously charged for an offence under Sections 498A

and 406 IPC in Case No.75/2008 in the Court of ACJM-01, Kekari District Court in

which he has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for one year.

10. The SC/ST Act has been enacted by the Parliament to effectuate a salutary

public purpose of achieving the fulfillment of constitutional rights of the Scheduled

Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Statement of Objects and Reasons

accompanying the introduction of the Bill in 1989 contains the following elucidation:

“1. Despite various measures to improve the socio-economic
conditions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled
Tribes, they remain vulnerable. They are denied number of
civil rights. They are subjected to various offences, indignities,
humiliations and harassment. They have, in several brutal
incidents, been deprived of their life and property. Serious
crimes are committed against them for various historical,
social and economic reasons.

2. Because of the awareness created amongst the Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes through spread of
education, etc., they are trying to assert their rights and this is

8
not being taken very kindly by the others. When they assert
their rights and resist practices of un-touchability against them
or demand statutory minimum wages or refuse to do any
bonded and forced labour, the vested interests try to cow
them down and terrorise them. When the Scheduled Castes
and the Scheduled Tribes try to preserve their self-respect or
honour of their women, they become irritants for the dominant
and the mighty. Occupation and cultivation of even the
government allotted land by the Scheduled Castes and the
Scheduled Tribes is resented and’ more often these people
become victims of attacks by the vested interests of late,
there has been an increase in the disturbing trend of
commission of certain atrocities like making the Scheduled
Castes persons eat inedible substances like human excreta
and attacks on and mass killings of helpless Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes and rape of women belonging
to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Under
the circumstances, the existing laws like the protection of Civil
Rights Act
, 1955 and the normal provisions of the Indian
Penal Code
have been found to be inadequate to check these
crimes. A special legislation to check and deter crimes
against them committed by non-Scheduled Castes and non-
Scheduled Tribes has, therefore, become necessary.

3. The term ‘atrocity’ has not been defined so far. It is
considered necessary that not only the term ‘atrocity’ should
be defined but stringent measures should be introduced to
provide for higher punishments for committing such atrocities.
It is also proposed to enjoining, on the States and the Union
territories to take specific preventive and punitive measures to
protect the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes from
being victimised and where atrocities are committed, to
provide adequate relief and assistance to rehabilitate them.

4. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objects.”

11. Section 15A, which comes under Chapter IV-A of the SC/ST Act titled ‘Rights

of victims and witnesses’, was introduced by way of the Scheduled Castes and the

Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, which came into

9
effect on 26 January 2016. The Statement of Objects and Reasons that

accompanied the insertion of Chapter IV-A reads as follows:

“(h) to insert a new Chapter IVA relating to “Rights of Victims
and Witnesses” to impose certain duties and responsibilities
upon the State for making necessary arrangements for
protection of victims, their dependents and witnesses against
any kind of intimidation, coercion or inducement or violence or
threats of violence”(emphasis supplied).”

12. Investigations in India are the exclusive domain of the police, where victims

are often relegated to the role of being a spectator in the criminal justice system.

Victims of crime often face significant hurdles during investigation and prosecution.

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes specifically suffer on account of procedural

lapses in the criminal justice system. They face insurmountable hurdles in accessing

justice from the stage of filing the complaint to the conclusion of the trial. Due to the

fear of retribution from members of upper caste groups, ignorance or police apathy,

many victims do not register complaints in the first place. If victims or their relatives

muster up the courage to approach the police, the police officials are reluctant to

register complaints or do not record allegations accurately. Eventually, if the case

does get registered, the victims and witnesses are vulnerable to intimidation,

violence and social and economic boycott. 8 Further, many perpetrators of caste-

based atrocities get away scot-free due to shoddy investigations and the negligence

of prosecuting advocates. 9 This results in low conviction rates under the SC/ST Act

giving rise to the erroneous perception that cases registered under the Act are false

8
C Prabhu, Protecting the Rights of Victims and Witnesses in Caste-Based Atrocities, Centre for Law and Policy
Research Blog, available at https://clpr.org.in/blog/protecting-the-rights-of-victims-witnesses-in-caste-based-atrocities/
(15 September 2020), last accessed on 27 October 2021.
9
Subhradipta Sarkar, The Quest for Victims’ Justice in India, Human Rights Brief 17(2) (2010), p.16-20.

10
and that it is being misused. On the contrary, the reality is that many acquittals are

a result of improper investigation and prosecution of crime, leading to insufficient

evidence. This is evident from the low percentage of cases attracting the application

of the provisions of the Penal Code relating to false complaints as compared to the

rate of acquittals. 10

13. Section 15A of the SC/ST Act contains important provisions that safeguard

the rights of the victims of caste-based atrocities and witnesses. Sub-sections (3)

and (5) of Section 15A specifically make the victim or their dependent an active

stakeholder in the criminal proceedings. These provisions enable a member of the

marginalized caste to effectively pursue a case and counteract the effects of

defective investigations. Sub-sections (1) to (5) of Section 15A are extracted below:

“15A(1) It shall be the duty and responsibility of the State to
make arrangements for the protection of victims, their
dependents, and witnesses against any kind of intimidation or
coercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence.

(2) A victim shall be treated with fairness, respect and dignity
and with due regard to any special need that arises because
of the victims age or gender or educational disadvantage or
poverty.

(3) A victim or his dependent shall have the right to
reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any Court
proceeding including any bail proceeding and the Special
Public Prosecutor or the State Government shall inform
the victim about any proceedings under this Act.
(4) A victim or his dependent shall have the right to apply to
the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court, as the case
may be, to summon parties for production of any documents
or material, witnesses or examine the persons present.

(5) A victim or his dependent shall be entitled to be heard
at any proceeding under this Act in respect of bail,

10
Sthabir Khora, Misconstruction of the Anti-atrocities Act’s Misuse, Economic and Political Weekly 53 (15) (14 April
2018).

11
discharge, release, parole, conviction or sentence of an
accused or any connected proceedings or arguments
and file written submission on conviction, acquittal or
sentencing.”

(emphasis added)

14. Sub-section (3) of Section 15A confers a statutory right on the victim or their

dependents to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any court proceeding

including a bail proceeding. In addition, sub-section (3) requires a Special Public

Prosecutor or the State Government to inform the victim about any proceeding

under the Act. Sub-section (3) confers a right to a prior notice, this being evident

from the use of the expression “reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any court

proceeding including any bail proceeding”. Sub-section (5) provides for a right to be

heard to the victim or to a dependent. The expression “dependent” is defined in

Section 2(bb) thus:

“2(bb) “dependent” means the spouse, children, parents,
brother and sister of the victim, who are dependent wholly or
mainly on such victim for his support and maintenance;”

The provisions of sub-section (3) which stipulate the requirement of notice and of

sub-section (5) which confers a right to be heard must be construed harmoniously.

The requirement of issuing a notice facilitates the right to be heard.

15. Many High Court decisions have noted that Section 15A was introduced to

protect the rights of the victims and witnesses whose rights as equal beneficiaries of

the criminal justice system are often overlooked due to their weak social position.

12
The Madhya Pradesh High Court, in Sunita Gandharva v. State of MP &

Anr, 11while highlighting the purpose of the amendment inserting Section 15A

observed that:

“21. With the years of experience, it was found that due to
some vagueness in the definitions and some procedural
inertia, the purpose of Act lacked fulfilment, therefore, to
make it more victim oriented, the Amendment Act was
introduced.

22. With the legislative intent reiterated in the letter, no iota of
doubt exists that intention of the Amendment Act was for
Speedy Trial and Protection of Victims’ Rights. By way of
Section 2 (ec) Victim has been defined and beside Section
14-A
, Section 15-A, “Rights of victim and witnesses” was
introduced to take care of them for the first time. Definition of
Victim includes-relatives, legal guardian and legal heirs and
this definition is much wider than the definition of Victim
provided in Section 2 (wa) of Cr.P.C. which includes guardian
or legal heir, not the relatives. Similarly, Section 15A of
Atrocities Act provides an extensive mechanism for protection
of Victims/Witnesses. Even the victim has been given a
chance to appear before the Court at the time of hearing of
bail application. Right of the Court to cancel or revoke the bail
is one of the measures by which protection of
Victims/Witnesses can be ensured…”

16. The Gujarat High Court in Hemal Ashwin Jain v. Union of India12 observed

that:

“37. The victims, even today, have no semblance of rights at
the investigation stage and a feeble position at the trial stage
of a criminal prosecution.

……

53. We are also not impressed by the argument of Mr.Popat
that Section 15A(3) of the Amendment Act should be

11
2020 SCC OnLine MP 2193
12
R/Special Civil Application No. 6369 of 2020 (Gujarat High Court), available at
https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-380514.pdf (last accessed on 27 October 2021).

13
construed as directory and not mandatory. As is evident from
a plain reading of the section quoted above, the victim must
be served with notice of the bail application and must be
provided an opportunity to be heard and advance argument.
When a statute specifically provides a right to the
victim/dependent to be heard at any proceedings in respect of
bail, and if the court fails to provide such opportunity, then
there is an inherent failure of justice. This procedure, in our
opinion, cannot be bypassed. The non-compliance of the
provision of Section 15A(3) of the Amendment Act would
render an order null and void. If Section 15A(3) of the
Amendment Act is to be construed as directory, then the very
object and purpose with which such provision is enacted
would got frustrated.”

61. In such circumstances referred to above, we hold that
Section 15A(3) of the Amendment Act is mandatory and
not directory”

(emphasis supplied).

17. The finding of the Gujarat High Court that the requirement of issuing notice of

a court proceeding to a victim or a dependent under Section 15A (3), in order to

provide them an opportunity of being heard, is mandatory, finds echo in multiple

High Court decisions 13 including a decision of the Rajasthan High Court 14. We find

ourselves in agreement with the proposition and hold that sub-sections (3) and (5) of

Section 15A are mandatory in nature.

18. In the present case, it is evident that the right to notice and to be heard were

violated. Initially, when S.B. Criminal Appeal No.1132/2019 was heard by the High

Court against the denial of bail by the Special Judge in the first bail application, the

appellant was present through counsel. The appeal under Section 14A(2) of the
13
Ajeet Chaudhary v. State of UP, 2021 SCC OnLine All 417 (Allahabad High Court); Basheer M. v. State of Kerala,
2020 SCC OnLine Ker 1675 (Kerala High Court); and Marenna and Ors. v. The State & Ors., 2020 SCC OnLine Kar
1077 (Karnataka High Court).

14

Abid v. State of Rajasthan, 2020 SCC OnLine Raj 2703.

14
SC/ST Act was not pressed by the first respondent and was accordingly dismissed.

Section 14A(2) is in the following terms:

“14A(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (3)
of section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of
1974), an appeal shall lie to the High Court against an order
of the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court granting
or refusing bail.”

19. When the High Court entertained S.B. Criminal Appeal No.2518/2019 on 7

November 2019, no notice was given to the appellant. The High Court allowed the

application for bail. When the appellant moved the High Court for cancellation of

bail, the Single Judge took the view that compliance with the principles of natural

justice at that particular stage would cure the deficiency. There has been a clear

infraction of the mandate of the statute. Sub-sections (3) and (5) have been

introduced by the Parliament to ensure a right to be heard to the person against

whom the offence is committed or to the dependents. These provisions must be

scrupulously observed. We cannot agree with the finding of the Single Judge that

the defect in not issuing notice to the victim or their dependent and depriving them of

the opportunity to be heard in the concerned proceedings (for grant of bail) can be

cured by providing them a hearing in a proceeding that arose subsequently (for

cancellation of bail). Compliance with the principles of natural justice must be

observed at every stage under the mandate of the statute.

20. Atrocities against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

are not a thing of the past. They continue to be a reality in our society even today.

Hence the statutory provisions which have been enacted by Parliament as a

15
measure of protecting the constitutional rights of persons belonging to the

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes must be complied with and enforced

conscientiously. There has been an evident breach of the statutory requirements

embodied in sub-sections (3) and (5) of Section 15A in the present case.

21. We also emphasize that sub-section (3) of Section 15A provides that a

reasonable and timely notice must be issued to the victim or their dependent. This

would entail that the notice is served upon victims or their dependents at the first or

earliest possible instance. If undue delay is caused in the issuance of notice, the

victim, or as the case may be, their dependents, would remain uninformed of the

progress made in the case and it would prejudice their rights to effectively oppose

the defense of the accused. It would also ultimately delay the bail proceedings or the

trial, affecting the rights of the accused as well.

22. Quite apart from the infraction of the provisions of the SC/ST Act, there has

been no application of mind by the Single Judge of the High Court to the

considerations that govern the grant of bail. This Court recently in Ramesh Bhavan

Rathod v. Vishanbhai Hirabhai Makwana 15, of which one of us was a part (Justice

DY Chandrachud), has elaborated on the considerations that govern the grant of

bail. This Court also emphasized that recording of reasons by a judge is not a task in

formality, but an exercise of judicial accountability and transparency, which makes

the decision available for further scrutiny at the touchstone of reason and justice.

This Court observed:

15

(2021) 6 SCC 230

16
“39. Grant of bail under Section 439 CrPC is a matter
involving the exercise of judicial discretion. Judicial discretion
in granting or refusing bail—as in the case of any other
discretion which is vested in a court as a judicial institution—
is not unstructured. The duty to record reasons is a significant
safeguard which ensures that the discretion which is
entrusted to the court is exercised in a judicious manner. The
recording of reasons in a judicial order ensures that the
thought process underlying the order is subject to scrutiny
and that it meets objective standards of reason and justice….

40. We are also constrained to record our disapproval of the
manner in which the application for bail of Vishan (A-6) was
disposed of. The High Court sought to support its decision to
grant bail by stating that it had perused the material on record
and was granting bail “without discussing the evidence in
detail” taking into consideration:

(1) the facts of the case;

(2) the nature of allegations;

(3) gravity of offences; and

(4) role attributed to the accused.”

23. While granting bail to the first respondent, the High Court in its order dated 7

November 2019 only recorded the submission of counsel for the first respondent

that PW-2, the spouse of the deceased, had in the course of her statement recorded

during the trial, stated that the deceased had gone with her brother Kishan Lal; that

Kishan Lal had obtained an insurance policy in the name of the deceased and that

the murder had been committed by Kishan Lal to obtain the proceeds of the

insurance policy, with the help of his friends. There is absolutely no reasoning in the

order of the High Court granting bail, after recording the submissions of the first

respondent’s counsel apart from noting that the public prosecutor had opposed the

bail. The High Court held that it was just and expedient to release the first

17
respondent on bail “keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case”. Such

orders cannot pass muster. The duty to record reasons cannot be obviated by

recording submissions, followed by an omnibus “in the facts and circumstances”

formula. Brief reasons which indicate the basis for granting bail are essential, for it is

the reasons adduced by the court which indicate the basis of the order.

24. Before the High Court granted bail by its order dated 7 November 2019, the

final report had been submitted on 6 September 2018. The final report under

Section 173 CrPC contains a detailed analysis of the call data records of the

accused who were in continuous contact with each other, as well as of their location

in close proximity to the date and time of the incident. The bail order does not make

any mention of factors that are relevant for the grant of bail, which are (i) the

seriousness and gravity of the offence; and (ii) the role attributed to the first

respondent in the commission of the crime. In this backdrop, the order of the High

Court in granting bail cannot pass muster. Aggrieved by the order, the appellant had

filed an application16 seeking its recall. The Single Judge of the High Court by the

impugned order dated 8 June 2021 simply reiterated that the bail was granted on the

basis of the statement of the wife of the deceased, PW.2, once again failing to show

any engagement with the considerations that govern the grant of bail.

25. The appeal is accordingly allowed and the impugned order of the Single

Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Rajasthan dated 8 June 2021 in S.B. Crl

Bail Cancellation Application No. 21/2020 is set aside. The order granting bail to the

16
S.B. Criminal Miscellaneous Bail Cancellation Application No. 21/2020

18
first respondent dated 7 November 2019 shall stand set aside. The first respondent

shall surrender into custody on or before 7 November 2021.

26. The observations made during the course of this judgment are only for the

purpose of considering the grant of bail to the first respondent and shall not have a

bearing on the merits of the case as such.

27. Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of.

……..…………………………………………J.

[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]

………………………………………………J.

[BV Nagarathna]
New Delhi;

October 29, 2021.

19



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