Naresh Kumar Mangla vs Anita Agarwal on 17 December, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Naresh Kumar Mangla vs Anita Agarwal on 17 December, 2020

Author: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud

Bench: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud, Hon’Ble Ms. Malhotra, Hon’Ble Ms. Banerjee

                                                                                           Reportable



                                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                       Criminal Appeal Nos.872-873 of 2020
                                  Arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 4935-4936 of 2020



          Dr Naresh Kumar Mangla                                                     …Appellant



                                                        Versus



          Smt. Anita Agarwal & Ors. Etc.                                         …Respondents




                                                   JUDGMENT

Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J

A. Background

B. Submissions of Counsel

C. Cancellation of Anticipatory Bail
Signature Not Verified

D.

Digitally signed by
Sanjay Kumar
Date: 2020.12.17
Transfer of further investigation to the CBI
18:28:32 IST
Reason:

          E.             Summation


                                                             1
                                                                             PART A

1       Leave granted


A       Background


2       Applications for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal

Procedure 1973 (“CrPC”) were filed by four out of five persons who have been

named as accused in Case Crime No. 0623 of 2020 registered at Police Station

Tajganj, District Agra under Sections 498A, 304-B, 323, 506 and 313 of the Indian

Penal Code (“IPC”) and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. The

husband of the deceased1 is in custody. The applicants for anticipatory bail are the

parents-in-law2, brother-in-law3 and sister-in-law4 of the deceased. A Single Judge of

the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad allowed the applications and granted them

anticipatory bail. The father of the deceased is in appeal.

3 The marriage between the deceased (Deepti) and Sumit Agarwal took place

on 3 November 2014. On 7 August 2020, the appellant lodged a complaint which

was registered as a First Information Report (“FIR”) under Section 154 of the CrPC.

The FIR, inter alia, records that Deepti was a doctor and the appellant spent an

amount in excess of Rs.1.50 crores for conducting the marriage. It is alleged that

even thereafter, Sumit, his parents, brother-in-law and sister-in-law misbehaved with

the deceased on account of dowry. The deceased, it is alleged, was pressurized to

bring money. The FIR alleges that the appellant had paid money on several

1
A-1
2
A-2 and A-3
3
A-4
4
A-5

2
PART A

occasions by cheque to the in-laws of the deceased. On account of the demand for

dowry, it was alleged that she was severely assaulted in 2017 and the injuries were

medically examined at the Government Hospital in Vrindavan. In the meantime,

Deepti suffered miscarriages on two occasions and ultimately, adopted a daughter.

As regards the incident which eventually led to the unnatural death by the alleged

suicide of Deepti, the FIR records that:

“About 18-19 days ago, all the abovementioned family
members of her in-laws badly beaten up Dipti on account of
dowry and threatened her that if she informed the family of
her parents, she will have to face the consequences. On
03.08.2020, in the morning, Dr S. C. Agarwal telephonically
threatened the applicant and demanded the money, and also
threatened that either I should fulfill the demand, otherwise, I
will be responsible for whatever happens in future. The same
day in the afternoon at 3:09 PM and thereafter at 5:31 PM in
the evening, Dipti told the applicant and the wife of the
applicant about beating up done by them about 18-19 days
ago and regarding taking advice by all the people and about
threat to her life. At the time, the applicant was in Faridabad
and he told her about coming to Agra in the night itself.

However, before the applicant could reach in the evening on
the same day these dowry greedy people killed Dipti in [xxx]
for non-receipt of dowry and non-fulfilment of the demands,
and admitted Dipti in their hospital itself in the almost dead
condition, in order to save themselves, but she was not
allowed any treatment with the intention of killing her. In order
to save the life of Dipti, the applicant took her away to the
Sarvodaya hospital Faridabad for treatment, at the earliest, in
the morning itself, where Dipti died yesterday on 06.08.2020
during treatment. These people have also taken possession
of the entire money which was earned by Dipti. Dipti has been
killed by Sumit, S.C. Agarwal, Mrs Anita, Amit and Tulika, for
dowry with cruel behavior. We performed the last rites of Dipti
in Kosi. Since we were busy in the treatment and performing
the last rites of Dipti, the applicant has come for filing the
report.”

3
PART A

4 The spouse of the deceased-who is also a doctor by profession, was taken

into custody on 7 August 2020. On 10 August 2020, the four respondents (A-2 to A-

5) sought anticipatory bail before the Sessions Court, Agra5. By an order dated 21

August 2020, the Sessions Judge, Agra declined anticipatory bail. After adverting to

the submission of the accused that a suicide note which was allegedly left behind by

the deceased did not contain any allegation of harassment for dowry and the

deceased was a partner and investor in the Agra Medical and Cardiac Super

Specialty Hospital set up by her father-in-law, the Sessions Judge observed:

“On the other hand, the documents have been filed on behalf
of the complainant side, in which it has been shown that the
money was transferred to different transactions. The
photocopy of the application dated 01.10.2017 submitted by
the deceased to the SHO, Kosikalan, District Mathura, has
also been filed, in which it is mentioned about beating up of
the deceased by Dr Amit Agarwal, Tulika Agarwal and Anita
Agarwal and pushing her down through the stairs with the
intention of killing her, and it has been mentioned that she
suffered considerable injuries in it. It has also been stated in
it that all this has happened at the instance of her father-in-

law S.C. Agarwal, who has asked her to bring Rs. 20 lakhs
from the family of her parents. In addition, the photocopy of
the injury report of the deceased dated 02.10.2017 of the
additional district joint hospital, Brindaban has also been
filed.”

5 The Sessions Judge noted that besides naming the accused specifically,

there were also allegations against the four respondents in the FIR of torturing the

deceased and of making demands for dowry. On 9 September 2020, non-bailable

warrants were issued against the four accused. Applications for anticipatory bail

5
Anticipatory bail application nos. 241/242 of 2020

4
PART A

were filed on their behalf before the High Court6. On 22 September 2020, a learned

Single Judge, after noting the submissions, posted the applications for anticipatory

bail for “further hearing” on 28 September 2020 and protected the accused against

arrest in the interim. On 28 September 2020, another Single Judge of the High Court

before whom the application was listed noted the fact that the earlier order dated 22

September 2020 had posted the application for “further hearing” and directed the

registry to process the listing of the proceedings accordingly. Eventually, anticipatory

bail has been granted by the order of the High Court dated 29 September 2020. The

reasons on the basis of which the High Court proceeded to grant anticipatory bail

are contained in paragraph 20 of the judgment of the High Court which is extracted

below:

“20. Having heard the learned counsel for applicants, learned
A.G.A. and the learned counsel for the informant and the
undisputed position which has emerged from the record as
noted above, the fact of the matter is that the applicants are
the father-in-law, mother-in-law, Jeth and Jethani of
deceased. Secondly, the husband of the deceased is already
in jail. Thirdly, the F.I.R. is not to be treated as an
encyclopedia of prosecution case but must reflect the basic
prosecution case. When judged in the light of above, the
F.I.R. prima facie appears to be engineered to implicate the
applicants. There is no co-relation in between the various
allegations leveled in the F.I.R. The allegations made are
general in nature and no specific role has been assigned to
any of the above named applicants regarding the alleged
demand of dowry. From the perusal of the material on record,
particularly the income-tax returns it cannot be said that the
applicants are not of sufficient means. The absence of any
external injury on the body of the deceased, clearly denotes
the bonafide (sic) of applicants.”

6
Criminal Misc Anticipatory Bail Application Nos. 5457/5460 of 2020

5
PART B

6 Notice was issued on the Special Leave Petitions on 27 October 2020. In

pursuance of the order, the State of Uttar Pradesh has entered appearance and is

represented by Shri Vimlesh Kumar Shukla, Senior Counsel and Mr Vishnu Shankar

Jain as Counsel. The respondent-accused are represented by Mr Sidharth Luthra

and Mr R Basant, Senior Counsel. Counter affidavits and written submissions have

been filed.

B          Submissions of Counsel



7          Assailing the grant of anticipatory bail, Mr Shekhar Naphade, Senior Counsel

representing the Appellant, submitted that:

    (i)       Though specific allegations have been leveled in the FIR that the

deceased has been killed, which indicates the commission of a cognizable

offence, there has been no investigation by the police of whether the death

was homicidal and she was murdered;

(ii) The Sessions Judge, while denying anticipatory bail, made a specific

reference to the transfer of moneys by the deceased into the account of

her father-in-law. As a matter of fact, between 19 November 2015 and 15

December 2018, an amount of Rs.50.53 lacs was transferred by the

parents of the deceased (of which an amount of Rs.15 lacs has been paid

directly by a family friend to the father-in-law of the deceased), the rest

being transferred into her account. The amount of Rs 15 lakhs was repaid

by the informant on 17 December 2019 to the person who had lent the
6
PART B

moneys. Between 4 December 2015 and 1 March 2017, the deceased

transferred an amount of Rs.24 lacs by bank transfer from her account to

the account of her father-in-law. Details of these payments are as follows:

C. AMOUNT TRANSFERRED FROM DECEASED TO R-5 FOR INVESTMENT [PG. K, SLP]
S. Date Amount Purpose Pages Corresponding
No (Counter) same entry in A2’s
Balance Sheet @ Pg
(Counter)

04.12.2015 2,00,000 Building 274 180

1. Construction
Investment
02.06.2016 2,00,000 Building 275 183 (Received next

2. Construction day i.e 03.06.2016)
Investment
30.06.2016 5,00,000 Building 275 184

3. Construction
Investment
01.03.2017 15,00,000 Building 277 187

4. Construction
Investment
Total 24,00,000

(iii) The deceased was an anesthetist and was working in the family run

nursing home of the respondent-accused. She died within 5 years and 8

months of her marriage. There are specific allegations in the FIR of an

incident which took place on 1 October 2017 when the deceased was

assaulted by her mother-in-law and by the elder brother of her husband

(brother-in-law of the deceased) and his spouse (sister-in-law of the

deceased); at the instance of her father-in-law, which led to the filing of a

complaint with the SHO, Police Station Kosi Kalan, District Mathura on 1

October 2017. The medical report of the examination of the deceased

shows the presence of five injuries which have been attributed to be

7
PART B

caused by a hard and blunt object; The complaint was not pursued to save

the marriage of the deceased;

(iv) The police were informed of the incident of hanging of the victim at 1930

hours on 3 August 2020. The investigating team however reached the site

only on 4 August 2020 at 1130 and at 1330 hours prepared an inventory of

articles recovered from the scene. It is alleged that the suicide note is

missing from the list and finds a mention only in a General Diary entry at

2356 hours. In the charge-sheet which has eventually been filed on 5

November 2020, the recovery panchnama of the suicide note does not find

mention. The suicide note is not in the handwriting of the deceased;

(v) The FIR contains a specific allegation that on 3 August 2020 the informant

had received a telephone call from the father-in-law of the deceased

demanding money and that on the same day in the afternoon at 3:09 pm

and 5:31 pm the deceased spoke to the informant and his wife and

informed them that she had been assaulted about 18 or 19 days earlier

and of the threat to her life. The appellant told his daughter that he was in

Faridabad and would reach Agra on the same night but before he could do

so the deceased had allegedly been killed. The FIR alleges that the in-

laws of the deceased had taken away the entire money which was earned

by her as a doctor;

(vi) The applications for anticipatory bail filed by the respondent-accused were

dismissed by the Sessions Judge on 21 August 2020. A non-bailable

warrant was issued on 9 September 2020. In spite of the dismissal of the
8
PART B

applications for anticipatory bail and the specific allegation that Deepti had

been killed, only her spouse was taken in for custodial interrogation and

the alleged murder has not been investigated. Though until 22 September

2020, the other accused were not protected from arrest, no effort was

made by the police to trace them in the interim;

(vii) A charge-sheet dated 24 October 2020 was submitted to the competent

court on 5 November 2020 hastily, without proper investigation of the

crime;

(viii) The order of the High Court cannot pass muster on the basis of the law

which has been laid down by this Court in the following decisions:

                (i)     (2001) 6 SCC 338; Puran vs Ramvilas
                (ii)    (2005) 8 SCC 21; State of U.P. vs Amarmani Tripathi

(iii) (2012) 4 SCC 379; Jaiprakash Singh vs State of Bihar

(iv) (2016) 15 SCC 422; Neeru Yadav vs State of U.P.

                (v)     (2020) 5 SCC 1; Sushila Agarwal vs NCT of Delhi
                (vi)    (1997) 7 SCC 187; State vs Anil Sharma and

(vii) (2005) 4 SCC 303; Adri Narayan Das vs State of West
Bengal

8 Opposing the above submissions, Mr Sidharth Luthra, Senior Counsel

submitted that:

(i) The deceased and her husband commenced living separately from 12

October 2018;

(ii) The post mortem report indicates that the death occurred as a result of

suicide by hanging. The absence of bodily injuries would displace the

allegation that the in-laws are involved in the murder of the deceased;

9

PART B

(iii) An amount of Rs.16.01 lacs received by the deceased in her bank

account from the family of the informant between 4 December 2015 and

25 March 2017, has been converted into fixed deposit receipts in the

State Bank of India. While the deceased has transferred an amount of

Rs.24 lacs from her account to her father-in-law between 4 December

2015 and 1 March 2017, this was as a part of the investment towards the

construction of a hospital. As a part of the family understanding, the

father-in-law intended to set up a separate hospital for the deceased and

her husband and to give the management of the earlier hospital to both of

them. Hence, in order to set up Sapphire Hospital, a limited liability

partnership by the name of M/s Agra Medical and Cardiac Super

Specialty, LLP was formed on 28 December 2016 with five partners

including the deceased and her spouse who had a share each of 35%.

Investments were being made by all partners to establish Sapphire

Hospital and the total investment by the father-in-law was in the amount of

Rs.1.12 crores; and

(iv) Several transfers of funds have been made to the deceased from the two

hospitals, besides which amounts have been paid by the father-in-law to

the deceased and her spouse for the purchase of property in their joint

names. Details of these transactions have been furnished in the following

terms:

(a) Rs.27.25 lacs paid to the deceased by M/s Agra Medical and Cardiac

Research Centre between 2015-16 and 2017-18;

10

PART B

(b) Rs.61.79 lacs paid to the deceased by Sapphire Hospital (M/s Agra

Medical and Cardiac Super Specialty LLP) between 2017-18 and 2019-

20;

(c) Rs.66.73 lacs paid by the father-in-law to the deceased and her spouse

on 9 September 2019 and 21 September 2019 for the purchase of

property; and

(d) Rs.15 lacs paid to the deceased from the account of the LLP for the

purchase of two plots.

(v) An amount of Rs.30.80 lacs is invested in the name of the deceased inter

alia in the form of FDRs, bank balances, PPF and in an RD account.

(vi) Three immovable properties valued at about Rs.1.4 crores are jointly

owned by the deceased and her spouse;

(vii) The alleged incident on 1 October 2017 is a fabrication since the brother-

in-law and sister-in-law of the deceased had travelled to Mumbai on those

days;

(viii) The suicide note, which has been forwarded to the forensic science

laboratory, indicates that the deceased was in a depressed mental state

due to her miscarriages;

(ix) The recovery of the suicide note is evidenced by the recovery memos

drawn up by the police; and

11
PART B

(x) The applicants have co-operated in the course of the investigation and

their statements have been recorded before the charge-sheet was filed on

5 November 2020.

9 Supporting the above submissions, Mr R Basant, Senior Counsel submits that

Dr SC Agarwal (A-2) is a senior medical practitioner based in Agra. He and his

spouse (A-3) have two sons who are doctors by profession, namely A-1 and A-4. A-

1 was the spouse of the deceased while A-4 and A-5 are spouses. Two hospitals

were set up by A-2 with the object of ensuring separate establishments for his sons,

A-1 and A-4. Supporting the grant of anticipatory bail by the High Court, Mr Basant

submitted that:

(i) The tenor of the suicide note indicates that the deceased was suffering

from mental depression as a result of successive miscarriages and she

had, in fact, adopted a girl child in June 2018;

(ii) On 12 October 2018, the deceased and her spouse set up a separate

residence for themselves;

(iii) The deceased had drawn salary from both the hospitals which have been

set up by her father-in-law. A-2 had transferred money to A-1 and the

deceased to enable them to buy immovable property in their joint names;

and

(iv) After the deceased attempted to commit suicide on 3 August 2020, she

was rushed to the family run nursing home run by her father-in-law. The

police reached the scene of the incident on the evening of 3 August 2020,
12
PART B

though no FIR was registered until 7 August 2020. Articles were

recovered on 3 and 4 August 2020. The suicide note was recovered on 3

August 2020. It was deposited in the malkhana on 4 August 2020, as

reflected in Entry 85 of the General Diary. The deceased was

subsequently removed to another hospital by her father, the appellant.

On 5 August 2020, the suicide note was extensively published in the local

newspapers in spite of which the complaint does not indicate that it is

fabricated. The suicide note, it has been submitted, contains no reference

to harassment on account of dowry.

10 The State of Uttar Pradesh has filed a counter affidavit in these proceedings

through Harish Chandra Tamta working in the Circle Office (Deputy Superintendent

of Police), District Agra. The Counter Affidavit contains the following statements:

“9. It is relevant to mention that High Court has not taken into
consideration the bodily injury sustained by deceased Dipti in
the year 2017 and the contents of FIR lodged by her with the
police station.

10. It is relevant to mention that on 2.8.2020 Sumit Agarwal
(husband) and Anita Agarwal (mother-in-law) of the deceased
through mobile call made at 9.30 a.m demanded dowry and
had asked that serious consequences will follow if money was
not paid.

10. Dr. Dipti suffered two (sic) abortions due to the ill-
treatment given by her husband and in-laws.

11. There is no explanation for the injuries found on the body
of deceased.

12. The medical report and the facts revealed that deceased
has been killed.

13

PART B

13. It is the case of continuous demand of dowry, causing
torture and victimization of the deceased and the deceased
has herself stated in the FIR lodged in the year 2017 about
the demand of dowry by her husband and in-laws.

14. It is also clear that the story of suicide due to frustration
and adopting a child by the deceased are fictitious and
baseless. The alleged suicide note is not in the handwriting
of(sic) Dr. Dipti. The said document is false, fabricated and
has been prepared by the accused persons and they are
guilty of committing of offence u/s 468 & 471 of IPC.

15. That Respondent-State is also relying upon the law laid
down by this Hon’ble ·Court. In case of Lavesh vs State (NCT
of Delhi
) reported in 2012 (8) SCC 730, particularly in
paragraphs 8,12 and 18 of this judgment.”

11 On the basis of the above averments, the State has supported the appellant

in assailing the correctness of the order granting anticipatory bail. Significantly, on

the specific query of the Court as to whether any investigation has been carried out

on the allegation that Deepti was murdered, Mr Vimlesh Kumar Shukla, learned

Senior Counsel has answered in the negative. On the alleged suicide note, learned

Senior Counsel submitted that it was initially returned back by the FSL in the

absence of adequate material for comparing the hand writing and it has now been

re-submitted by the Investigating Officer with necessary supporting material to the

FSL, whose report is awaited.




                                                14
                                                                                 PART C

C           Cancellation of Anticipatory Bail

12          The rival submissions will now be considered. The appellant, who is the father

of the deceased, lodged a complaint on 7 August 2020 on the basis of which FIR

No. 0623 of 2020 was registered at Police Station Tajganj in the District of Agra. The

FIR contains the following allegations:

(i) The marriage of the deceased to A-1, the son of A-2 took place on 3

November 2014;

(ii) The deceased was a qualified doctor by profession;

(iii) An amount of Rs.1.5 crores was spent on the occasion of her marriage;

(iv) A-1 to A-5 were dissatisfied with the moneys brought by the bride and she

was pressurized to bring an amount of Rs. 1 crore;

(v) The appellant paid money by cheque to the groom‟s family in the interest

of the domestic happiness of his daughter;

(vi) There was an incident in 2017 when the deceased was assaulted by her

in-laws. Injuries were suffered by her, as revealed during the course of a

medical examination at the Government Hospital in Vrindavan;

(vii) The deceased suffered two miscarriages and had adopted a girl child;

(viii) There was continued harassment of the deceased and of the child whom

she had adopted;

(ix) About 18 or 19 days before the incident on 3 August 2020, the deceased

had been assaulted by the accused persons on account of dowry and

threatened with consequences if she informed her family;

15

PART C

(x) There was a telephone call on 3 August 2020 by A-2 to the appellant-

complainant for demanding money and threatening him with

consequences;

(xi) The deceased made telephone calls at 3:09 PM and at 5:31 PM on 3

August 2020 to her parents when she revealed being assaulted in the

recent past and of the threat to her life;

(xii) By the time the appellant travelled from Faridabad to Agra he found that

his daughter had been killed for non-fulfillment of the demand for dowry;

(xiii) The appellant removed the deceased to Sarvodaya hospital at Faridabad

for treatment where she died on 6 August 2020;

(xiv) The FIR was lodged after the last rites were performed;

(xv) The accused had taken possession of the moneys which were earned by

the deceased; and

(xvi) The daughter of the appellant had been killed for dowry.

13 The police were informed of the commission of cognizable offences. They

were duty bound to investigate. One of the principal aspects which weighed with the

Sessions Judge while denying anticipatory bail on 21 August 2020 was the fact that

the informant‟s side had filed documents indicating the transfer of moneys under

different transactions. Besides this, the Sessions Judge also relied on the letter

dated 1 October 2017 addressed by the deceased to the SHO, Kosi Kalan, District

Mathura, specifically complaining that she had been assaulted by A-3, A-4 and A-5

as a consequence of which she had suffered injuries. The Sessions Judge noted
16
PART C

that it has been alleged that this had happened at the behest of her father-in-law, A-

2. Besides the contents of the FIR, the Single Judge of the High Court was duly

apprised of the fact that though the deceased had been assaulted in 2017, the

informant had not proceeded against the spouse of the deceased and the other

members of his family, simply to save the marriage. The Single Judge, while

analyzing the rival submissions, noted that

(i) The applicants for bail are the father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law

and sister-in-law;

(ii) The spouse of the deceased is in custody; and

(iii) The FIR is not to be treated as “an encyclopedia of the prosecution‟s case

but must reflect the basic prosecution case.”

Having recorded the above premises, the Single Judge held that (a) “the FIR prima

facie appears to be engineered to implicate the applicants”; (b) “there is no co-

relation in between the various allegations leveled in the FIR”; and (c) the allegations

“are general in nature” with no specific role being assigned to the accused.

14 We have prefaced this analysis by a reference to the FIR. There is no cogent

basis for the Single Judge to have arrived at any of the three prima facie findings.

The informant had suffered a loss of his own daughter due to an unnatural death in

close proximity to the lodging of his complaint. The FIR contains a reference to the

previous incident of October 2017, to the demands for dowry, payments of money in

cheque by the informant to the groom‟s family and the telephone calls received by

the informant from the father-in-law of the deceased and later from the deceased in

17
PART C

close proximity to the incident, on the same day that she died. The FIR contains

specific allegations against the accused, commencing with the incident of October

2017. Whether such an incident, as reported by the deceased to the police on 1

October 2017 did take place, leading to her suffering injuries which were examined

at the Government Hospital, is a matter for investigation. How the learned Single

Judge could have concluded – in the face of specific allegations in the FIR and the

reference by the Sessions Judge to money transactions – that the FIR prima facie

has been “engineered to implicate the accused” defies reasonable explanation.

Similar is the case with the finding that “there is no co-relation between the

allegations leveled in the FIR.” A reading of the FIR would reveal that the finding of

the Single Judge that the allegations “are general without assigning a specific role to

the accused” is contrary to the record. The Single Judge observed, from the income

tax returns of the accused, that “it cannot be said that they are not of sufficient

means”. The Single Judge has erred in drawing this inference without a full

investigation by the investigating arm of the state. Mr Luthra has sought to rely on

the payment of monies to the deceased by the two hospital establishments, the

transfer of funds for the purchase of properties and the joint ownership of properties.

The trail of monies alleged to be received by the deceased for her professional work

is a matter to be investigated. Similarly, the transfer of monies by the deceased to

her father-in-law and the nexus, if any, with the funds which she had received from

her parents is a matter for serious investigation. The death was unnatural which took

place within seven years of the marriage. The alleged phone calls received by the

informant from some of the accused and by the deceased on the day when she was
18
PART C

found to be hanging are matters which required to be probed. The alleged absence

of an external injury on the body of the deceased is a matter for investigation. The

approach of the High Court is casual. The surmises which are contained in the

reasons recorded by the High Court have no basis in the materials with which it was

confronted. The observation of the High Court that no specific role is assigned in the

FIR to the accused is based on a misreading of the FIR. The entire approach of the

High Court is flawed. It is contrary to the record and, as we shall now explain,

contrary to settled principles of law governing the exercise of discretion on the grant

of anticipatory bail in a case involving the alleged commission of a serious offence.

15 It is a well settled principle of law that the setting aside of an “unjustified,

illegal or perverse order” granting bail is distinct from the cancellation of bail on the

ground of the supervening misconduct of the accused or because some new facts

have emerged, requiring cancellation. In Puran vs. Ramvilas7, this Court has held

that where an order granting bail ignores material on record or if a perverse order

granting bail is passed in a heinous crime without furnishing reasons, the interests of

justice may require that the order be set aside and bail be cancelled. The recording

of no reasons is one end of the spectrum. The other end of the domain for

interference with an order granting anticipatory bail (into which the present case

settles) is where the reasons are contrary to the material on record and hence found

to suffer from perversity.

7
(2001) 6 SCC 338

19
PART C

16 The facts which must be borne in mind while considering an application for

the grant of anticipatory bail have been elucidated in the decision of this Court in

Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre vs. State of Maharashtra 8 and several other

decisions. The factors to be considered include:

“112. […]

(i) the nature and gravity of the accusation and the exact
role of the accused;

(ii) the antecedents of the applicant including whether the
accused has previously undergone imprisonment on a
conviction by a court in respect of a cognizable
offence;

(iii) the possibility of the applicant fleeing from justice;

(iv) the likelihood of the accused repeating similar or
other offences;

(v) whether the accusations have been made only with
the object of injuring or humiliating the applicant by
arresting them;

(vi) the impact of the grant of anticipatory bail particularly
in cases of magnitude affecting a large number of
people;

(vii) The court must carefully evaluate the entire material
against the accused. The court must also clearly
comprehend the exact role of the accused in the case.
Cases in which the accused is implicated with the help
of Sections 34 and 149 of the Penal Code, 1860 the
court should be considered with even greater care and
caution because overimplication in such cases is a
matter of common knowledge and concern;

(viii) While considering the prayer for grant of anticipatory
bail, a balance has to be struck between two factors,
namely, no prejudice should be caused to the free, fair
and full investigation and there should be prevention
of harassment, humiliation and unjustified detention of
the accused;

8
(2011) 1 SCC 694

20
PART C

(ix) the reasonable apprehension of tampering of the
witnesses or apprehension of threat to the
complainant;

(x) frivolity in prosecution should always be considered
and it is only the element of genuineness that shall
have to be considered in the matter of grant of bail
and in the event of there being some doubt as to the
genuineness of the prosecution, in the normal course
of events, the accused is entitled to an order of bail.

113. Arrest should be the last option and it should be
restricted to those exceptional cases where arresting
the accused is imperative in the facts and
circumstances of that case. The court must carefully
examine the entire available record and particularly
the allegations which have been directly attributed to
the accused and these allegations are corroborated
by other material and circumstances on record.”

Adverting to the above observations, in Jai Prakash Singh vs State of Bihar9, this

Court held:

“19. Parameters for grant of anticipatory bail in a serious
offence are required to be satisfied and further while granting
such relief, the court must record the reasons… Anticipatory
bail can be granted only in exceptional circumstances where
the court is prima facie of the view that the applicant has
falsely been roped in the crime and would not misuse his
liberty. (See D.K. Ganesh Babu v. P.T. Manokaran [(2007) 4
SCC 434 : (2007) 2 SCC (Cri) 345] , State of
Maharashtra v. Mohd. Sajid Husain Mohd. S. Husain
[(2008)
1 SCC 213 : (2008) 1 SCC (Cri) 176] and Union of
India v. Padam Narain Aggarwal
[(2008) 13 SCC 305 : (2009)
1 SCC (Cri) 1] .)”

9
(2012) 4 SCC 379

21
PART C

17 In the recent decision of the Constitution Bench in Sushila Aggarwal vs

State (NCT of Delhi),10 the considerations which ought to weigh with the Court in

deciding an application for the grant of anticipatory bail have been reiterated. The

final conclusions of the Court indicate that:

“92.1… The application seeking anticipatory bail should
contain bare essential facts relating to the offence, and why
the applicant reasonably apprehends arrest, as well as his
side of the story. These are essential for the court which
should consider his application, to evaluate the threat or
apprehension, its gravity or seriousness and the
appropriateness of any condition that may have to be
imposed.

92.3…While considering an application (for grant of
anticipatory bail) the court has to consider the nature of the
offence, the role of the person, the likelihood of his influencing
the course of investigation, or tampering with evidence
(including intimidating witnesses), likelihood of fleeing justice
(such as leaving the country), etc.

92.4. Courts ought to be generally guided by considerations
such as the nature and gravity of the offences, the role
attributed to the applicant, and the facts of the case, while
considering whether to grant anticipatory bail, or refuse it.

Whether to grant or not is a matter of discretion; equally
whether and if so, what kind of special conditions are to be
imposed (or not imposed) are dependent on facts of the case,
and subject to the discretion of the court.”

18 The Constitution Bench has reiterated that the correctness of an order

granting bail is subject to assessment by an appellate or superior court and it may

be set aside on the ground that the Court granting bail did not consider material

10
(2020) 5 SCC 1

22
PART C

facts or crucial circumstances. A two judge Bench of this Court, in Kanwar Singh

Meena vs. State of Rajasthan11, noted that:

“10. Thus, Section 439 of the Code confers very wide powers
on the High Court and the Court of Session regarding bail.
But, while granting bail, the High Court and the Sessions
Court are guided by the same considerations as other courts.
That is to say, the gravity of the crime, the character of the
evidence, position and status of the accused with reference to
the victim and witnesses, the likelihood of the accused fleeing
from justice and repeating the offence, the possibility of his
tampering with the witnesses and obstructing the course of
justice and such other grounds are required to be taken into
consideration. 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.

While cancelling the bail under Section 439(2) of the Code,
the primary considerations which weigh with the court are
whether the accused is likely to tamper with the evidence or
interfere or attempt to interfere with the due course of justice
or evade the due course of justice. But, that is not all. 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 well-recognised principles
underlying the power 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

11
(2012) 12 SCC 180

23
PART C

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)

Recently, this Court in Myakala Dharmarajam vs. The State of Telangana 12

reiterated the above principles and stated:

“9. It is trite law that cancellation of bail can be done in cases
where the order granting bail suffers from serious infirmities
resulting in miscarriage of justice. If the court granting bail
ignores relevant material 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.”

19 It is apposite to mention here the distinction between the considerations which

guide the grant of anticipatory bail and regular bail. In Pokar Ram vs. State of

Rajasthan 13 , while setting aside an order granting anticipatory bail, this Court

observed:

“5. Relevant considerations governing the court’s decision in
granting anticipatory bail under Section 438 are materially
different from those when an application for bail by a person
who is arrested in the course of investigation as also by a
person who is convicted and his appeal is pending before the
higher court and bail is sought during the pendency of the
appeal. Three situations in which the question of granting or
refusing to grant bail would arise, materially and substantially

12
(2020) 2 SCC 743
13
(1985) 2 SCC 597

24
PART C

differ from each other and the relevant considerations on
which the courts would exercise its discretion, one way or the
other, are substantially different from each other. This is
necessary to be stated because the learned Judge in the
High Court unfortunately fell into an error in mixing up all the
considerations, as if all the three become relevant in the
present situation.

6. The decision of the Constitution Bench in Gurbaksh Singh
Sibbia v. State of Punjab
[(1980) 2 SCC 565 : 1980 SCC (Cri)
561] clearly lays down that “the distinction between an
ordinary order of bail and an order of anticipatory bail is that
whereas the former is granted after arrest and therefore
means release from the custody of the police, the latter is
granted in anticipation of arrest and is therefore effective at
the very moment of arrest”. Unlike a post-arrest order of bail,
it is a pre-arrest legal process which directs that if the person
in whose favour it is issued is thereafter arrested on the
accusation in respect of which the direction is issued, he shall
be released on bail. A direction under Section 438 is intended
to confer conditional immunity from the touch as envisaged by
Section 46(1) or confinement. In para 31, Chandrachud, C.J.
clearly demarcated the distinction between the relevant
considerations while examining an application for anticipatory
bail and an application for bail after arrest in the course of
investigation. Says the learned Chief Justice that in regard to
anticipatory bail, if the proposed accusation appears to stem
not from motives of furthering the ends of justice but from
some ulterior motive, the object being to injure and humiliate
the applicant by having him arrested, a direction for the
release of the applicant on bail in the event of his arrest would
generally be made. It was observed that “it cannot be laid
down as an inexorable rule that anticipatory bail cannot be
granted unless the proposed accusation appears to be
actuated by mala fides; and, equally, that anticipatory bail
must be granted if there is no fear that the applicant will
abscond”. Some of the relevant considerations which govern
the discretion, noticed therein are “the nature and
seriousness of the proposed charges, the context of the
events likely to lead to the making of the charges, a
reasonable possibility of the applicant’s presence not being
secured at the trial, a reasonable apprehension that
witnesses will be tampered with and „the larger interests of
the public or the State‟, are some of the considerations which
the court has to keep in mind while deciding an application for
anticipatory bail”. A caution was voiced that “in the evaluation
of the consideration whether the applicant is likely to

25
PART C

abscond, there can be no presumption that the wealthy and
the mighty will submit themselves to trial and that the humble
and the poor will run away from the course of justice, any
more than there can be a presumption that the former are not
likely to commit a crime and the latter are more likely to
commit it.”

Judged in the light of the above principles, the judgment of the Single Judge of the

High Court of Judicature at Allahabad is unsustainable. The FIR contains a recital of

allegations bearing on the role of the accused in demanding dowry, of the prior

incidents of assault and the payment of moneys by cheque to the in-laws of the

deceased. The FIR has referred to the telephone calls which were received both

from the father-in-law of the deceased on the morning of 3 August 2020 and from

the deceased on two occasions on the same day- a few hours before her body was

found. The grant of anticipatory bail in such a serious offence would operate to

obstruct the investigation. The FIR by a father who has suffered the death of his

daughter in these circumstances cannot be regarded as “engineered” to falsely

implicate the spouse of the deceased and his family. We hasten to add that our

observations at this stage are prima facie in nature, and nothing that we have said

should be construed as a determination on the merits of the case which will be

adjudicated at the trial.




                                               26
                                                                             PART D

D     Transfer of further investigation to the CBI


20    The investigation by the UP Police in the present case leaves much to be

desired. We have already extracted in the earlier part of this judgment, the contents

of the counter affidavit which have been filed on behalf of the Deputy Superintendent

of Police, Agra. The contents of the counter affidavit are at a material divergence

with the contents of the charge-sheet filed on 5 November 2020. During the course

of the hearing, this Court has been specifically informed by learned Senior Counsel

appearing on behalf of the State of Uttar Pradesh, that no investigation was

conducted into the allegation in the FIR that the deceased had been murdered.

Though much was sought to be made out of the alleged suicide note, at this stage it

needs to be emphasised that its authenticity has been seriously disputed by the

appellant. As the learned Senior Counsel for the State of Uttar Pradesh informed the

Court, the forensic science laboratory referred the matter back in the absence of

adequate material to assess the genuineness of the suicide note and upon re-

submission, a report is awaited.

Within a couple of days of the death of Deepti, the alleged suicide note found its way

into the newspapers in Agra. This is in fact a circumstance relied upon by the

learned Counsel for the accused when they submit that despite the publicity given to

the suicide note, the FIR does not impugn its authenticity. The sequence in this case

appears to follow familiar patterns. Immediate publicity was given to the alleged

suicide note. These examples are now becoming familiar. Selective disclosures to

the media affect the rights of the accused in some cases and the rights of victims‟

27
PART D

families in others. The media does have a legitimate stake in fair reporting. But

events such as what has happened in this case show how the selective divulging of

information, including the disclosure of material which may eventually form a crucial

part of the evidentiary record at the criminal trial, can be used to derail the

administration of criminal justice. The investigating officer has a duty to investigate

when information about the commission of a cognizable offence is brought to their

attention. Unfortunately, this role is being compromised by the manner in which

selective leaks take place in the public realm. This is not fair to the accused because

it pulls the rug below the presumption of innocence. It is not fair to the victims of

crime, if they have survived the crime, and where they have not, to their families.

Neither the victims nor their families have a platform to answer the publication of

lurid details about their lives and circumstances. Having said this, we prima facie

reject the insinuation that the FIR had not doubted or referenced the suicide note,

despite its publication in the news media. The daughter of the appellant had died in

mysterious circumstances. The family had completed the last rites. To expect that

they should be scouring the pages of the print and electronic media before reporting

the crime is a mockery of the human condition. The apprehension of the appellant

that A-2 and his family have a prominent social status in Agra and may have used

their position in society to thwart a proper investigation cannot be regarded to be

unjustified.

21 In the backdrop of what has been stated above and the serious deficiencies in

the investigation, we have during the hearing, made all the counsel aware of the

28
PART D

possibility of this court referring the case for further investigation to the CBI. The

court must enter upon the prospect of such a course of action with circumspection

for two reasons. First, this court has repeatedly observed that the power which is

vested in a superior court to transfer the investigation to another agency, such as

the CBI, must be wielded with caution. In a recent judgement of this Court, Arnab

Goswami vs. Union of India 14 , one of us (Dr. Justice D Y Chandrachud) had

interpreted the rationale underpinning the circumspection in the following terms:

“44. In assessing the contention for the transfer of the
investigation to the CBI, we have factored into the decision-

making calculus the averments on the record and
submissions urged on behalf of the petitioner. We are unable
to find any reason that warrants a transfer of the investigation
to the CBI. In holding thus, we have applied the tests spelt out
in the consistent line of precedent of this Court. They have
not been fulfilled. An individual under investigation has a
legitimate expectation of a fair process which accords
with law. The displeasure of an accused person about the
manner in which the investigation proceeds or an
unsubstantiated allegation (as in the present case) of a
conflict of interest against the police conducting the
investigation must not derail the legitimate course of law
and warrant the invocation of the extraordinary power of
this Court to transfer an investigation to the CBI. Courts
assume the extraordinary jurisdiction to transfer an
investigation in exceptional situations to ensure that the
sanctity of the administration of criminal justice is
preserved. While no inflexible guidelines are laid down,
the notion that such a transfer is an “extraordinary
power” to be used “sparingly” and “in exceptional
circumstances” comports with the idea that routine
transfers would belie not just public confidence in the
normal course of law but also render meaningless the
extraordinary situations that warrant the exercise of the
power to transfer the investigation. Having balanced and
considered the material on record as well as the averments of

14
WP (Crl) 130 of 2020, decided on 19 May 2020

29
PART D

and submissions urged by the petitioner, we find that no case
of the nature which falls within the ambit of the tests
enunciated in the precedents of this Court has been
established for the transfer of the investigation.”

(emphasis supplied)

22 Second, in the facts of this case, the charge-sheet which is dated 24 October

2020 has been submitted to the competent court on 5 November 2020. The

submission of the charge-sheet does not oust the jurisdiction of a superior court,

when as in the present case, the investigation is tainted and there is a real likelihood

of justice being deflected. In Vinay Tyagi vs Irshad15, a two judge Bench of this

Court, speaking through Justice Swatanter Kumar, has held:

“43. At this stage, we may also state another well-settled
canon of the criminal jurisprudence that the superior courts
have the jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code or even
Article 226 of the Constitution of India to direct “further
investigation”, “fresh” or “de novo” and even “reinvestigation”.

“Fresh”, “de novo” and “reinvestigation” are synonymous
expressions and their result in law would be the same. The
superior courts are even vested with the power of
transferring investigation from one agency to another,
provided the ends of justice so demand such action. Of
course, it is also a settled principle that this power has to
be exercised by the superior courts very sparingly and
with great circumspection.”

(emphasis supplied)

The court held that wherever a charge-sheet has been submitted to the court, even

this Court would not ordinarily reopen the investigation especially by entrusting it to

15
(2013) 5 SCC 762

30
PART D

a specialized agency. However, in a proper case, when the Court feels that the

investigation by the police has not been in the proper perspective and that in order

to do complete justice, where the facts of the case demand that the investigation be

handed over to a specialized agency, a superior court is not bereft of the authority to

do so. (Disha v. State of Gujarat [(2011) 13 SCC 337: (2012) 2 SCC (Cri) 628]

and Rubabbuddin Sheikh v. State of Gujarat [(2010) 2 SCC 200: (2010) 2 SCC (Cri)

1006])

In Pooja Pal vs Union of India16, a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through

Justice Amitava Roy, observed that there was no embargo on this Court to transfer

an investigation to the CBI after submission of the charge-sheet in the following

terms-

“79. The precedential ordainment against absolute prohibition
for assignment of investigation to any impartial agency like
CBI, submission of the charge-sheet by the normal
investigating agency in law notwithstanding, albeit in an
exceptional fact situation warranting such initiative, in order to
secure a fair, honest and complete investigation and to
consolidate the confidence of the victim(s) and the public in
general in the justice administering mechanism, is thus
unquestionably absolute and hallowed by time. Such a
measure, however, can by no means be a matter of course or
routine but has to be essentially adopted in order to live up to
and effectuate the salutary objective of guaranteeing an
independent and upright mechanism of justice dispensation
without fear or favour, by treating all alike…..

81. The judicially propounded propositions on the aspects of
essentiality and justifiability for assignment of further
investigation or reinvestigation to an independent
investigating agency like CBI, whether or not the probe into a
criminal offence by the local/State Police is pending or

16
(2016) 3 SCC 135

31
PART D

completed, irrespective of as well, the pendency of the
resultant trial have concretised over the years, applicability
whereof, however, is contingent on the factual setting
involved and the desideratum for vigilant, sensitised and
even-handed justice to the parties.

83……. Though a court’s satisfaction of want of proper, fair,
impartial and effective investigation eroding its credence and
reliability is the precondition for a direction for further
investigation or reinvestigation, submission of the charge-
sheet ipso facto or the pendency of the trial can by no means
be a prohibitive impediment. The contextual facts and the
attendant circumstances have to be singularly evaluated and
analysed to decide the needfulness of further investigation or
reinvestigation to unravel the truth and mete out justice to the
parties.”

Similarly, in Dharam Pal vs State of Haryana17, a two judge Bench of this Court,

speaking through Justice Dipak Mishra (as the learned Chief Justice then was),

upheld the power of this Court to transfer an investigation to the CBI, irrespective of

the stage of the trial. It held:

“24. Be it noted here that the constitutional courts can direct
for further investigation or investigation by some other
investigating agency. The purpose is, there has to be a fair
investigation and a fair trial. The fair trial may be quite difficult
unless there is a fair investigation. We are absolutely
conscious that direction for further investigation by another
agency has to be very sparingly issued but the facts depicted
in this case compel us to exercise the said power. We are
disposed to think that purpose of justice commands that the
cause of the victim, the husband of the deceased, deserves
to be answered so that miscarriage of justice is avoided.
Therefore, in this case the stage of the case cannot be the
governing factor.

25. ….If a grave suspicion arises with regard to the
investigation, should a constitutional court close its hands and
accept the proposition that as the trial has commenced, the

17
(2016) 4 SCC 160

32
PART D

matter is beyond it? That is the “tour de force” of the
prosecution and if we allow ourselves to say so it has become
“idée fixe” but in our view the imperium of the constitutional
courts cannot be stifled or smothered by bon mot or
polemic….”

23 Having regard to the circumstances which have emerged on the record, which

have been adverted to in the earlier part of the judgment, we are of the view that it is

necessary to entrust a further investigation of the case to the CBI in exercise of the

powers of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution. The conduct of the

investigating authorities from the stage of arriving at the scene of occurrence to the

filing of the charge-sheet do not inspire confidence in the robustness of the process.

A perusal of the charge-sheet evinces a perfunctory rendition of the investigating

authorities‟ duty by a bare reference to the facts and the presumption under Section

304B of the IPC when the death occurs within seven years of the marriage. The

stance taken by the Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Counter Affidavit, filed a

few days after forwarding the charge-sheet, travels beyond the scope of the

investigation recorded in the charge-sheet with respect to the veracity of the suicide

note, medical examination of injuries and the past miscarriages of the deceased.

Critical facts of the money trail between the deceased, her father (the informant),

and the accused; and the call history of A2, the informant and the deceased are

unexplored. No attempt at custodial interrogation of the applicants was made

between the issuance of non-bailable warrants on 9 September 2020 and interim

protection from arrest by the High Court granted on 22 September 2020. As noted

above, upon questioning during the hearing, the Counsel for the State answered that

33
PART E

no investigation on the allegation of murder had been conducted. It would indeed be

a travesty if this Court were to ignore the glaring deficiencies in the investigation

conducted so far, irrespective of the stage of the proceedings or the nature of the

question before this Court. The status of the accused as propertied and wealthy

persons of influence in Agra and the conduct of the investigation thus far diminishes

this Court‟s faith in directing a further investigation by the same authorities. The

cause of justice would not be served if the Court were to confine the scope of its

examination to the wisdom of granting anticipatory bail and ignore the possibility of a

trial being concluded on the basis of a deficient investigation at best or a biased one

at worst.

24 Mr K M Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General of India has appeared in these

proceedings with Mr Arvind Kumar Sharma, and stated that the CBI would abide by

the orders of this Court.

E     Summation


25    We accordingly allow the appeal and issue the following directions:


      (i)    The order passed by the Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature

at Allahabad allowing the applications for anticipatory bail by the

respondents-accused shall stand set aside and the bail granted to them

shall stand cancelled; and

34
PART E

(ii) The CBI is directed to conduct a further investigation of the case arising

out of case Crime No. 0623 of 2020 registered at Police Station

Tajganj, District Agra, dated 7 August 2020.

26 The appeals are disposed of in the above terms.

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

…………………………………………………………J
[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]

…..……………………………………………………J
[Indu Malhotra]

…..……………………………………………………J
[Indira Banerjee]

New Delhi;

December 17, 2020.

35



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