Prashant Singh Rajput vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 8 October, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Prashant Singh Rajput vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 8 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. 1202 of 2021
                          (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5786 of 2021)



          Prashant Singh Rajput                                    .... Appellant


                                           Versus



          The State of Madhya Pradesh and Anr.                     .... Respondents


                                            With
                              Criminal Appeal No. 1203 of 2021
                          (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5788 of 2021)




Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
DEEPAK SINGH
Date: 2021.10.08
16:05:14 IST
Reason:




                                              1
                           JUDGMENT



Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J


Index


A         The Appeal
B         Facts
C         Submissions
D         Analysis
E         Conclusion




                                 2
                                                                               PART A

A       The appeal


1       These appeals arise from judgments dated 1 July 2021 1 and 31 May 2021 2 of

a Single Judge of the Jabalpur Bench of the High Court for the State of Madhya

Pradesh through which it allowed the applications for anticipatory bail filed by the

second respondents in both the appeals under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal

Procedure 1973 3 in connection with a crime 4 registered at the Police Station Majholi,

District Jabalpur, State of Madhya Pradesh for the offences punishable under

Sections 302 and 323 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 5.

2 The crime was registered on the basis of a dehati nalsi/FIR lodged by the

appellant on 29 September 2020. The allegation in the FIR is that the appellant was

at Negai Tiraha with the deceased, Vikas Singh (who was his brother in-law) and

two other individuals (Rajkishore Rajput and Dharmender Patel). It was alleged that

the four accused persons, namely Ujiyar Singh, his two sons Chandrabhan Singh

and Suryabhan Singh (the second respondent in the companion appeal) and his

driver Jogendra Singh (the second respondent in the lead appeal) arrived in a jeep.

Thereafter, allegedly due to a previous rivalry, Ujiyar Singh and Chandrabhan Singh

shot at Vikas Singh, while Jogendra Singh held him, leading to his death while

Suryabhan Singh hit the appellant on his head with the butt of his gun, leading to an

injury. Upon being brought to a hospital, Vikas Singh was pronounced dead,

following which the appellant got the FIR registered.
1
SLP (Criminal) No 5786 of 2021 (the “lead appeal”)
2
SLP (Criminal) No 5788 of 2021 (the “companion appeal”)
3
“CrPC”
4
Crime No 329 of 2020
5
“IPC”

3
PART A

3 Suryabhan Singh and Jogendra Singh filed applications seeking anticipatory

bail under Section 438 of the CrPC, apprehending their arrest in relation to the

crime. While allowing the application for anticipatory bail of Jogendra Singh, the

High Court noted that according to the report submitted by the investigating officer

under Section 173 of the CrPC, the investigation did not reveal that he was even

present at the spot of crime. The High Court observed that the veracity of such a

report could not be questioned at this stage. Further, it held that even if he was

present at the spot, there was no allegation against him of having fired at the

deceased-Vikas Singh or having provoked Ujiyar Singh/Chandrabhan Singh to fire

at the deceased-Vikas Singh. Hence, the High Court passed the following order

allowing his application for anticipatory bail:

“So, looking to the facts and circumstances of the case, the
application is allowed and it is directed that if the applicant
surrenders himself before concerned court within fifteen days
from today, he shall be released on anticipatory bail on
furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.50,000/- (Rupees
Fifty Thousand only) with one surety in like amount to the
satisfaction of the concerned Court for his regular appearance
before the Court during trial.

This order will remain operative subject to compliance of the
following conditions by the applicant:-

1.The applicant will comply with all the terms and conditions
of the bond executed by him;

2. The applicant will cooperate in the investigation/trial, as the
case may be;

3. The applicant will not indulge himself in extending
inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with
the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing
such facts to the Court or to the Police Officer, as the case
may be;

4

PART A

4. The applicant shall not commit an offence similar to the
offence of which he is accused;

5. The applicant will not seek unnecessary adjournments
during the trial; and

6. The applicant will not leave India without previous
permission of the trial Court/Investigating Officer, as the case
may be.”

Similarly, while considering the application filed by Suryabhan Singh, the High Court

observed that the report of the investigating officer under Section 173 of the CrPC

indicated that he was not present at the spot of the incident, but was in Jabalpur on

the basis of the statements of witnesses, tower location of mobile numbers of the

accused persons and the CCTV footage. The High Court held that the ‘only’

allegation against Suryabhan Singh was that he attacked the appellant, but that it

only resulted in a simple injury. Hence, the High Court allowed his application for

anticipatory bail, observing:

“8… So, looking to the facts and circumstances of the case,
the application is allowed and it is directed that if the applicant
surrenders himself before concerned court within fifteen days
from today, he shall be released on anticipatory bail on
furnishing a personal bond in the sum of Rs.50,000/- (Rupees
Fifty Thousand only) with one surety in like amount to the
satisfaction of the concerned Court for his regular appearance
before the Court during trial.

9. This order will remain operative subject to compliance of
the following conditions by the applicant:-

1. The applicant will comply with all the terms and conditions
of the bond executed by him;

2. The applicant will cooperate in the investigation/trial, as the
case may be;

5

PART B

3. The applicant will not indulge himself in extending
inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with
the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing
such facts to the Court or to the Police Officer, as the case
may be;

4. The applicant shall not commit an offence similar to the
offence of which he is accused;

5. The applicant will not seek unnecessary adjournments
during the trial; and

6. The applicant will not leave India without previous
permission of the trial Court/Investigating Officer, as the case
may be.”

B Facts

4 The genesis of this dispute between the deceased-Vikas Singh and the

accused persons allegedly originated from complaints dated 23 February 2019 and

27 July 2020 which the deceased-Vikas Singh had filed against the accused

persons. In his complaint dated 23 February 2019 against Ujiyar Singh and

Suryabhan Singh, he had alleged that the accused persons had been threatening

him and his workers who were engaged in farming activities, allegedly since they did

not belong to the area and had leased the land. He alleged that they had followed

him in their vehicle and had also gotten false complaints registered against him.

Further, he alleged that they were threatening him because they were engaged in

the business of illegal mining of sand from the nearby river and used to pass over

the land on which he was cultivating presently while transporting sand (which he had

stopped them from doing since he started farming). He also alleged that he, and

6
PART B

other residents of the village, had registered complaints against them previously but

no action had been taken by the police.

5 Thereafter, in his complaint dated 27 July 2020 against Jogendra Singh,

Vikas Singh alleged that he had caught Jogendra Singh stealing the illegally

excavated sand which the police had seized from him earlier, following which

Jogendra Singh threatened his life. On the basis of his complaint, a crime 6 had been

registered at the Police Station Panagar, District Jabalpur, State of Madhya Pradesh

against Jogendra Singh under Section 379 of the IPC on 28 July 2020. Deceased-

Vikas Singh had also lodged another written complaint on 4 August 2020 where he

alleged that the he apprehended that his life was at risk at the hands of the

Jogendra Singh and his brother, who had been threatening him since the crime had

been registered based on his complaint.

6 On the other hand, according to Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh, the

complaints made by Vikas Singh were in fact counter-blasts filed in response to a

complaint dated 30 January 2019 filed by Ujiyar Singh against him. In his complaint,

Ujiyar Singh had alleged that in fact it was the deceased-Vikas Singh who headed

the sand mafia and it was he who complained against the deceased-Vikas Singh.

Further, they also argue that the family of the deceased-Vikas Singh has criminal

antecedents since: (i) the father of the deceased–Vikas Singh, after being convicted

under Section 8 read with Section 20(b)(ii)(C) of the Narcotics Drugs and

Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 and Section 25(1)(1B)(a) of the Arms Act 1959,

6
Crime No 720 of 2020

7
PART B

has been undergoing rigorous imprisonment for 20 years and 3 years respectively;

and (ii) the grandfather of the deceased was arraigned as one of the accused in a

case of murder with robbery.

7 In relation to the present case, according to the information provided under

Section 154 of the CrPC by the appellant, at around 12:45 pm on 29 September

2020, the deceased-Vikas Singh along with the appellant and two other individuals

were near the Negai Tiraha. The accused persons allegedly arrived in a jeep, which

was being driven by Jogendra Singh. Once they parked the jeep, Ujiyar Singh

allegedly sat in a chair while his sons (Chandrabhan Singh and Suryabhan Singh)

stood near him. Allegedly, due to their pre-existing enmity, Ujiyar Singh shot Vikas

Singh in his abdomen. When Vikas Singh tried to run, he was held by Jogendra

Singh. Chandrabhan Singh then took the gun from Ujiyar Singh and is alleged to

have shot Vikas Singh in the head, while Suryabhan Singh attacked the appellant on

his head with the butt of the gun. Thereafter, the four accused persons are alleged

to have left in their jeep while the appellant and the other two individuals took Vikas

Singh to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The statement of the appellant

under Section 161 of the CrPC was recorded by the police on 30 September 2020.

Later, the statements of the appellant and the other alleged eye-witnesses under

Section 164 of the CrPC were recorded on 16 October 2020.

8 In relation to this same incident, Ujiyar Singh also got a crime7 registered at

the Police Station Majholi, District Jabalpur, State of Madhya Pradesh against the

7
Crime No 331 of 2020

8
PART B

deceased-Vikas Singh and the appellant on 30 September 2020 under Sections

294, 506, 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC. In the cross-FIR, he alleged that the crime

took place between 12.45 pm to 1 pm on 29 September 2020. He alleged that he

was being driven by his driver Babloo when he came across the deceased-Vikas

Singh and the appellant near Negai Tiraha. There, the deceased-Vikas Singh

allegedly started recording a video, told him he belonged to the sand mafia and

started abusing him. When he allegedly asked him to stop, the appellant is alleged

to have assaulted him with a lathi on the left side of his head above the ear which

started bleeding, while the deceased-Vikas Singh starting assaulting him with kicks

and punches. He alleges that this is when he fired his registered firearm – a 0.22

rifle – at Vikas Singh, which hit him in his stomach and head. The appellant allegedly

then hit his hand with the lathi, due to which the butt and barrel of the gun broke

apart and blood started oozing from his left hand. Allegedly, he then managed to run

away from the spot with his driver Babloo.

9 During the investigation of the present incident, Jogendra Singh had filed an

application for anticipatory bail in the crime registered against him under Section 379

of the IPC for stealing sand. By its order dated 8 October 2020, the High Court

rejected the application, while noting that the objector (deceased-Vikas Singh) in the

application had been murdered, in which Jogendra Singh was one of the individuals

who had been named as an accused in the FIR. The High Court had held:

“This case has transcended and gone beyond a simple case
for anticipatory bail in a case of theft of sand. Subsequently,
during the pendency of this application the objector has been

9
PART B

murdered in which the applicant herein has been named as
an accused and there are eyewitness testimony which speak
about his presence at the scene of occurrence and also his
participation in pulling back the deceased when the deceased
tried to run away and saved his life.

Be that as it may, this court refrains from passing any
observations on the merits of Crime No. 329/2020 as the
same is not before this court. But at the same time, this court
cannot close its eyes to the fact that the objector in this case
has been murdered and the case has taken a far more
serious turn and is no more merely restricted to a case of
theft of sand.

Under the circumstances, this may be a case that would
require custodia I interrogation as far as Crime No.720/2020
is concerned and, therefore, the application is dismissed.”

Thereafter, Jogendra Singh withdrew his application altogether, seeking to move an

application for regular bail under Section 439 of the CrPC, which was recorded by

the High Court in its final order dated 7 January 2021.

10 In the final report submitted on 15 December 2020 under Section 173 of the

CrPC, Ujiyar Singh and Chandrabhan Singh were named as accused, but Jogendra

Singh and Suryabhan Singh were stated to have had no role in the death of Vikas

Singh since they were in Jabalpur, 40 km away from the spot where the incident

occurred. The report is stated to have been based on: (i) Call Data Records 8, Tower

Mapping and Public Switched Telephone Network 9 data from Jogendra Singh and

Suryabhan Singh’s mobile phones; (ii) CCTV footage; and (iii) statements of

independent witnesses confirming their presence in Jabalpur.

8
“CDRs”
9
“PSTN”

10
PART B

11 The appellant and other family members of the deceased-Vikas Singh filed a

protest petition. By an order dated 13 January 2021, the Judicial Magistrate First

Class, Siroha 10 directed a further investigation, for the following reasons: (i) the

investigating officer’s report focused more on the CCTV footage and witness

statements proving Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh’s presence in Jabalpur,

rather than the witness statements of the appellant and other eye-witnesses who

noted their presence at the spot where the crime occurred; (ii) the CCTV footage

obtained by the police of the scene of crime was from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm, while the

appellant’s FIR and even Ujiyar Singh’s FIR place the time of the incident between

12 noon and 1 pm and 12.45 pm and 1.00 pm respectively: (iii) the police had not

checked the CCTV footage of the roads between the place where the incident took

place and Jabalpur; (iv) there were inconsistencies between the statement of Ujiyar

Singh and his FIR; (v) Jogendra Singh’s fingerprints had not been obtained from the

jeep (which he was alleged to be driving); and (vi) Suryabhan Singh’s finger prints

had not been lifted from Ujiyar Singh’s gun.

12 The investigating officer then filed a supplementary challan on 8 March 2021

indicating that on the basis of the further investigation directed by the JMFC,

evidence had emerged showing the involvement of Ujiyar Singh and Chandrabhan

Singh in the death of Vikas Singh. Hence, in the order dated 10 March 2021, the

JMFC observed that the investigating officer had conducted an investigation only

against Ujiyar Singh and Chandrabhan Singh, and had not properly considered the

10
“JMFC”

11
PART B

accusations against Suryabhan Singh and Jogendra Singh. Both of them were thus

summoned.

13 Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh then filed applications for anticipatory

bail 11. By separate orders dated 24 March 2021, the trial Court rejected their

applications while noting that: (i) the earlier order dated 13 January 2021 of the

JMFC had adverted to the omissions of the investigating officer; (ii) the investigating

officer relied upon CDRs but did not ascertain if Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan

Singh even used those numbers or whether they were just registered in their name;

and (iii) the witness statements under Sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC assign

them a specific role, which cannot be overlooked only because of a prior enmity

between the deceased-Vikas Singh and the accused persons.

14 Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh then moved the High Court in

applications 12 for anticipatory bail. The High Court allowed the applications on 1 July

2021 and 31 May 2021 respectively. The orders of the High Court are in question

before this Court.

11

Bail Application No 89 of 2021 and Bail Application No 88 of 2021
12
MCRC No 31835 of 2021 and MCRC No 18604 of 2021

12
PART C

C Submissions

15 Assailing the judgment of the Single Judge of the High Court, Mr Uday Gupta,

learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant has urged the following

submissions:

(i) The Single Judge relied exclusively upon the report of the investigating

officer to hold that Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh could not have

been present at the spot where the incident occurred and that the veracity

of the report could not be called into question at this stage;

(ii) The Single Judge ignored the observations in the order of the JMFC dated

13 January 2021 and in the subsequent order of the trial Court dated 24

March 2021, which indicate that the investigation conducted by the

investigating officer ignored vital circumstances pertaining to the crime;

(iii) The Single Judge ignored the FIR and the statements of the appellant and

the other eye-witnesses according to which Jogendra Singh and

Suryabhan Singh were present at the spot since the four accused had

come together in a jeep, and each had specific role in the crime: (a)

Jogendra Singh was driving the jeep and then held Vikas Singh while he

was trying to escape after Ujiyar Singh had shot him in the abdomen,

following which Chandrabhan Singh shot him in the head; and (b)

Suryabhan Singh assaulted the appellant with the butt of the rifle;

(iv) That another Single Judge of the High Court rejected the application for

anticipatory bail filed by Jogendra Singh even in the case registered

13
PART C

against him for illegal sand mining on the complaint filed by the deceased-

Vikas Singh, due to the nature of allegations against him in the present

case; and

(v) The Single Judge has ignored the seriousness and gravity of the crime as

well as material aspects and hence, this Court should cancel the

anticipatory bail granted, in accordance with the principles laid down by

this Court in Mahipal v. Rajesh Kumar 13 (“Mahipal”).

16 Mr S K Gangele, learned Counsel appearing on behalf of Jogendra Singh

urged that:

(i) The report filed by the investigating officer shows that Jogendra Singh was

not present at the spot where the incident occurred, but was in Jabalpur;

(ii) The FIR registered at the behest of Ujiyar Singh provides an alternate

explanation of the events leading to the death of Vikas Singh, according to

which Ujiyar Singh fired at the deceased since he and the appellant were

threatening his life; and

(iii) Ujiyar Singh’s FIR notes that his rifle was broken by the appellant and he

was also injured by a lathi on his head and hand, both of which injuries

have not been explained.

17 Mr R C Mishra, learned Senior Counsel appeared on behalf of Suryabhan

Singh, urged:

13

(2020) 2 SCC 118, para 16

14
PART C

(i) The FIR has been registered due to enmity between his family and the

deceased-Vikas Singh who used to run a sand mafia against which his

father, accused Ujiyar Singh, had complained. The deceased-Vikas Singh

also had criminal antecedents;

(ii) The allegation that the appellant suffered an injury on his head due to

Suryabhan Singh assaulting him with the butt of the rifle is inconsistent

with the nature of the injury, which is an abrasion; and

(iii) The FIR and the appellant’s statement under Section 161 of the CrPC do

not make any allegation of Suryabhan Singh having fired at the appellant

prior to hitting him with a gun, while his statement under Section 164 of the

CrPC makes that claim for the first time. No such empty cartridge has

been found and only the bullets in body of the deceased-Vikas Singh have

been recovered.

18 Mr Abhinav Srivastava, learned Counsel has appeared on behalf of the State

of Madhya Pradesh, urged that the order granting anticipatory bail is unsustainable

since:

     (i)        The crime is of a serious nature; and

     (ii)       As noted in JMFC’s order dated 13 January 2021, while Ujiyar Singh and

Chandrabhan Singh had been arrested and kept in judicial custody,

Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh continued to abscond.

19 The rival submissions now fall for our consideration.



                                                 15
                                                                                  PART D

D     Analysis


20    The FIR attributes specific roles to both Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan

Singh in the commission of the crime. The statement of the appellant under Section

161 of the CrPC adverts to the following: (i) that Ujiyar Singh would take sand

illegally mined through the land on which he was cultivating along with the

deceased-Vikas Singh; (ii) when they told Ujiyar Singh to desist, he took offence and

filed false complaints against the deceased-Vikas Singh; (iii) on 29 September 2020,

the deceased-Vikas Singh and the appellant went to Negai Tiraha in the vehicle of

the deceased-Vikas Singh and reached there at about 1.00 pm, where they met the

two others (Rajkishore Rajput and Dharmendra Patel); (iv) the four accused persons

(Ujiyar Singh, Chandrabhan Singh, Suryabhan Singh and Jogendra Singh) arrived in

a jeep being driven by Jogendra Singh; (v) Vikas Singh received a call and started

moving towards Negai Road when Ujiyar Singh shot him in the abdomen; (vi) when

Vikas Singh tried to flee, Jogendra Singh caught hold of him while Chandrabhan

Singh took the gun from Ujiyar Singh and shot him in the head; (vii) Suryabhan

Singh took the gun from Chandrabhan Singh and assaulted the appellant on the

head using the butt of the gun; (viii) one Nilesh Gotia came around in his car and

saw them, following which the appellant and the other two individuals took Vikas

Singh to a hospital in Nilesh’s car, from where they transferred him to the medical

college in an ambulance, where he was pronounced dead; and (ix) the police arrived

at the medical college, following which the appellant registered his complaint.

16
PART D

21 The material at this stage cannot be examined with a fine toothcomb in the

manner of a criminal trial. What needs to be determined is whether the parameters

for the grant of anticipatory bail were correctly formulated and applied by the Single

Judge. The line of submission of the counsel for the accused persons dwells on

some variance between the statements of the appellant under Section 161 and

Section 164 of the CrPC, namely: (i) that the appellant and the deceased reached

the Negai Tiraha around 12.15 pm, and not 1.00 pm; and (ii) after Vikas Singh was

shot in the head by Chandrabhan Singh, Suryabhan Singh first shot at the appellant

but the shot went above his head. Thereafter, Suryabhan Singh hit him in the head

with the butt of the gun, following which the handle of the rifle broke and fell there.

22 The statement of Rajkishore Rajput, an eye-witness, under Section 164 of the

CrPC mentions that: (i) on 29 September 2020, the deceased-Vikas Singh came to

his house at 9 am and told him to meet him at Negai Tiraha; (ii) he reached Negai

Tiraha with Dharmender Patel at 12 noon, following which the deceased-Vikas

Singh arrived in his vehicle with the appellant; and (iii) after committing the murder of

the Vikas Singh, the four accused left in their jeep.

23 The statement of Dharmender Patel, another eye-witness, under Section 164

of the CrPC, mentions that when he reached Negai Tiraha, he saw Rajkishore

Rajput who informed him that the deceased-Vikas Singh was about to arrive. Other

than that, his statement accords with those of the appellant and Rajkishore Rajput

under Section 164.

17
PART D

D.1 Cancellation of Anticipatory Bail

24 In a recent judgment of a two Judge Bench of this Court in Mahipal (supra),

this Court noted the difference in the approach that this Court must adopt while

considering a challenge to an order which has granted bail and an application for

cancelling the bail granted. The Court held:

“16. The considerations that guide the power of an appellate
court in assessing the correctness of an order granting bail
stand on a different footing from an assessment of an
application for the cancellation of bail. The correctness of an
order granting bail is tested on the anvil of whether there
was an improper or arbitrary exercise of the discretion in
the grant of bail. The test is whether the order granting
bail is perverse, illegal or unjustified. On the other hand,
an application for cancellation of bail is generally examined
on the anvil of the existence of supervening circumstances or
violations of the conditions of bail by a person to whom bail
has been granted. In Neeru Yadav v. State ofU.P. [Neeru
Yadav v. State of U.P., (2014) 16 SCC 508 : (2015) 3 SCC
(Cri) 527] , the accused was granted bail by the High Court
[Mitthan Yadav v. State of U.P., 2014 SCC OnLine All 16031]
. In an appeal against the order [Mitthan Yadav v. State of
U.P
., 2014 SCC OnLine All 16031] of the High Court, a two-

Judge Bench of this Court surveyed the precedent on the
principles that guide the grant of bail. Dipak Misra, J. (as the
learned Chief Justice then was) held: (Neeru Yadav case
[Neeru Yadav v. State of U.P., (2014) 16 SCC 508 : (2015) 3
SCC (Cri) 527] , SCC p. 513, para 12)

“12. … It is well settled in law that cancellation of bail after it is
granted because the accused has misconducted himself or of
some supervening circumstances warranting such
cancellation have occurred is in a different compartment
altogether than an order granting bail which is unjustified,
illegal and perverse. If in a case, the relevant factors which
should have been taken into consideration while dealing
with the application for bail have not been taken note of,
or bail is founded on irrelevant considerations,
indisputably the superior court can set aside the order of
such a grant of bail. Such a case belongs to a different
category and is in a separate realm. While dealing with a

18
PART D

case of the second nature, the Court does not dwell upon
the violation of conditions by the accused or the
supervening circumstances that have happened
subsequently. It, on the contrary, delves into the
justifiability and the soundness of the order passed by
the Court.”

17. Where a court considering an application for bail fails
to consider relevant factors, an appellate court may
justifiably set aside the order granting bail. An appellate
court is thus required to consider whether the order
granting bail suffers from a non-application of mind or is
not borne out from a prima facie view of the evidence on
record. It is thus necessary for this Court to assess
whether, on the basis of the evidentiary record, there
existed a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that
the accused had committed the crime, also taking into
account the seriousness of the crime and the severity of
the punishment…”

(emphasis supplied)

25 In another decision in Dr. Naresh Kumar Mangla v. Anita Agarwal and

Others 14 a three Judge Bench of this Court cancelled the anticipatory bail granted to

the accused, following the unnatural death of his wife. The Court surveyed the

authorities on the grant of anticipatory bail and held:

“19. In the recent decision of the Constitution Bench in
Sushila Aggarwal v. State (NCT of Delhi) [(2020) 5 SCC 1],
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:

“….92.3…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.

14
2020 SCC OnLine SC 1031

19
PART D

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.”

20. 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 facts or crucial circumstances…

[…]

22. It is apposite to mention here the distinction between the
considerations which guide the grant of anticipatory bail and
regular bail. In Pokar Ram v. State of Rajasthan [(1985) 2
SCC 597], while setting aside an order granting anticipatory
bail, this Court observed:

“…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
abscond, there can be no presumption that the wealthy and
the mighty will submit themselves to trial and that the humble

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PART D

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.””

26 Let us now consider these principles in the context of the facts of the present

case. Both the sides have presented their point-of-view in relation to the enmity

which existed between the deceased-Vikas Singh and the family of Ujiyar Singh.

However, we are not required to adjudicate on whether it was the deceased-Vikas

Singh or Ujiyar Singh who was mining sand illegally; rather, it is sufficient to note

that previous enmity did exist between both, whoever be the instigator.

27 In relation to the present incident, the appellant’s case is supported by the

FIR, his statements under Sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC, and the statements of

the other two eye-witnesses under Section 164 of the CrPC. On the other hand,

Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh rely on the counter FIR filed by Ujiyar Singh

according to which they were not present at the scene of crime and Ujiyar Singh

shot the deceased-Vikas Singh in self-defense. The orders of the JMFC dated 13

January 2021 and 10 March 2021 advert to the contents of the FIR registered at the

behest of the appellant. The investigating officer’s first report dated 15 December

2020 indicated that there was a prima facie case against Ujiyar Singh and

Chandrabhan Singh. The supplementary challan dated 8 March 2021 indicates that

more material had emerged during the course of investigation as against the events

portrayed in the FIR registered at the behest of Ujiyar Singh. Hence, the case

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PART D

portrayed by the appellant could not have been ignored by solely relying on the

counter-FIR.

28 The High Court has placed reliance upon the report submitted under Section

173 of the CrPC on 15 December 2020 to hold that Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan

Singh were not present when the incident occurred. However, the High Court has

not addressed the clear deficiencies in the course of the investigation which have

been highlighted in the order of the JMFC dated 13 February 2021 and the trial

Court’s order dated 24 March 2021. These are, inter alia: (i) the failure to notice eye-

witness statements; (ii) reliance on CCTV footage for the period of time after incident

had occurred, ignoring prior or contemporaneous footage; (iii) not collecting CCTV

footage between Jabalpur and the scene of offence; (iv) relying on CDRs without

determining if Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh had actually used the number;

and (v) not conducting any finger print analysis. In the order dated 13 February

2021, the JMFC identified these deficiencies with the investigation and directed

further investigation. Upon the submission of the supplementary challan, the JMFC

noted in their order dated 10 March 2021 that the challan was only in relation to

Ujiyar Singh and Chandrabhan Singh, and did not address the role of Jogendra

Singh and Suryabhan Singh. The obvious deficiencies in the investigation have

pointed out the errors in the trial Court’s order dated 24 March 2021 rejecting

Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh’s applications for anticipatory bail. The Single

Judge has, however, overlooked these crucial aspects.

22
PART D

29 Finally, it has also been argued on behalf of Suryabhan Singh that while the

appellant’s statement under Section 164 of the CrPC is that Suryabhan Singh also

shot at the appellant, the FIR and his statement under Section 161 of the CrPC only

record that he hit him with the butt of the gun. The trial is yet to take place where the

evidence adduced by the prosecution will be appreciated, and the veracity of

appellant’s claim in his statement under Section 164 can be determined there.

However, at the present stage, the FIR and both the appellant’s statements under

Section 161 and 164 are consistent in as much as that Suryabhan Singh did hit him

in his head with the butt of the gun. An argument has also been raised in relation to

the nature of the injury caused to the appellant, but this has to be decided at the

stage of trial after evidence has been led.

30 The Court has to determine whether on the basis of the material available at

this stage, the High Court has applied the correct principles in allowing the

applications for anticipatory bail. The offence is of a serious nature in which Vikas

Singh was murdered. The FIR and the statements under Sections 161 and 164 of

the CrPC indicate a specific role to Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh in the

crime. The order granting anticipatory bail has ignored material aspects, including

the nature and gravity of the offence, and the specific allegations against Jogendra

Singh and Suryabhan Singh. Hence, a sufficient case has been made out for

cancelling the anticipatory bail granted by the High Court.




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                                                                                            PART E

E     Conclusion


31    Therefore, the appeals are allowed. The impugned judgments dated 1 July

2021 and 31 May 2021 of the Single Judge of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh

granting anticipatory bail to Jogendra Singh and Suryabhan Singh – the second

respondents in these appeals – are set aside.

32 Pending applications, if any, also stand disposed of.

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

.…..….………………………………………………..J.
[B V Nagarathna]
New Delhi;

October 08, 2021

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