Sonu vs Sonu Yadav on 5 April, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Sonu vs Sonu Yadav on 5 April, 2021

Author: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud

Bench: Hon’Ble Dr. Chandrachud, M.R. Shah

     Crl.A.377/2021

                                                                1
                                                                                                       Reportable


                                                  IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                                 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                                   Criminal Appeal No 377 of 2021
                                               (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No 924 of 2021)



                      Sonu                                                             …Appellant(s)


                                                          Versus


                      Sonu Yadav and Another                                           …Respondent(s)




                                                       JUDGMENT

Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J

1 Leave granted.

2 This appeal arises from a judgment and order dated 1 December 2020 of a

Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Criminal

Miscellaneous Bail Application No 17334 of 2020.

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Chetan Kumar
Date: 2021.04.07
16:48:21 IST
Reason:

Crl.A.377/2021

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3 A First Information Report, FIR No 0076 of 2019, was registered on 9 February

2019 at Police Station Friends Colony, District Etawah for offences under Sections

498-A and 304-B of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry

Prohibition Act 1861. The First Information Report was registered on the complaint

of the appellant, who is the brother of the deceased. The marriage between the

deceased and the first respondent was solemnized on 5 July 2018. It has been

alleged in the FIR that at the time of the marriage, a cash amount of Rs 15 lakhs,

a motor vehicle and other household articles were provided in dowry. It has

been alleged that the first respondent and his parents were not satisfied with the

amount of dowry and an amount of Rs 5 lakhs was being demanded. On 8

February 2019, it has been alleged that at about 8.45 pm, a phone call was

received from a cell phone from the first respondent when the appellant was

informed that if he wished to see his sister alive, an amount of Rs 5 lakhs should

be arranged. It has been alleged that the phone was then disconnected.

However, at 1.30 am on 9 February 2019, the appellant is alleged to have

received a phone call requiring him to take away the dead body of his sister.

The FIR records that the appellant together with the members of the family went

to Etawah and found that the matrimonial home of the appellant’s sister was

locked. They came to know that her dead body had been kept at the district

hospital. On these allegations, the First Information Report came to be registered

at 11.49 am on 9 February 2019.

4 A charge-sheet has been submitted on 3 May 2019 for offences alleged under

Sections 498-A and 304-B of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the
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Dowry Prohibition Act. The bail application filed by the first respondent was

rejected by the Sessions Judge on 18 June 2019. The High Court was thereafter

moved in a bail application under Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure

1973. After recording the rival submissions, the High Court allowed the

application, observing thus:

“Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case,
submissions of learned counsel for the parties and keeping in
view the nature of offence, evidence, complicity of accused
and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case,
the Court is of the view that the applicant has made out a
case for bail. The bail application is allowed.”

5 We have heard Mr Vishal Yadav, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the

appellant, Mr Ravinder Singh, learned senior counsel for the first respondent and

Mr Sanjay Jain, learned counsel for the State of Uttar Pradesh have appeared in

pursuance of the notice issued by this Court on 27 January 2021.

6 Mr Vishal Yadav, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant submits

that (i) the High Court has adduced absolutely no reasons for the grant of bail;

(ii) the submission before the High Court that the deceased was suffering from a

mental illness is patently false and the so called medical prescription dated 1

January 2019 was issued by an Ayurvedic doctor about a month before the

date of the incident on 1 January 2019; (iii) ex facie, the medical prescription

would indicate that the deceased was not undergoing treatment for a mental

condition; (iv) the death has taken place within a year of the marriage; and (v)

having regard to the provisions of Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code and
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the presumptions which arise under Sections 113-A and 113-B of the Evidence

Act, there was no justification for the High Court to grant bail at the present

stage.

7 On the other hand, Mr Ravindra Singh, learned senior counsel appearing on

behalf of the first respondent has supported the view of the High Court, on the

ground that (i) the High Court has desisted from expressing any view on the

merits which may impede the course of the trial; (ii) the statements which have

been recorded during investigation would indicate that the death was as a

result of hanging; (iii) there is no complicity whatsoever of the first respondent;

(iv) hence, it would be appropriate for this Court not to interfere with the order

granting bail to the first respondent.

8 Mr Sanjay Jain, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State of UP has

submitted that an attempt has been made on behalf of the accused to

improve upon the case in the course of the pleadings. He sought to

demonstrate this by making a reference to paragraph 21 of the bail application

filed before the High Court, in which it was denied that the mobile number from

which the informant was alleged to have received the phone call demanding

additional dowry was in any manner associated with the family or the near

relatives of the accused. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that in

paragraph 7 of the counter affidavit before this court, the specific case of the

first respondent is that on 8 February 2019, when he was away from home to

attend a marriage of a close friend, he had received a call at 8.45 pm from the
Crl.A.377/2021

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same mobile number which is referred to in the FIR to the effect that his spouse

has committed suicide. Hence, it has been submitted that there has been a

clear attempt to improve upon the case which was set up in the application for

bail filed before the High Court.

9 At the present stage, certain basic aspects need to be noted. It is not in dispute

that the first respondent was married to the sister of the appellant on 5 July 2018.

She died on 8 February 2019, within a year of the marriage. There are specific

allegations in the First Information Report in regard to the demand of dowry, as

well as in regard to a phone call being received from the accused in close

proximity to the death of the sister of the appellant when a demand for

additional amounts of money was made. The submission in support of bail

recorded by the High Court was that the sister of the appellant was undergoing

treatment for a mental illness. In this context, it is material to note that in

paragraph 22 of the bail application, the plea was that the deceased was

“suffering from severe headache and was mentally disturbed since the past

nine months” and that she was taken to a doctor by the first respondent. A copy

of the medical prescription, which has been submitted before this Court, would

prima facie indicate that there was no serious ailment. The medical prescription

of the Ayurvedic doctor and the remedies prescribed belie such a claim. Prima

facie, there are serious allegations in the FIR in regard to the harassment suffered

by the deceased in close proximity to her death over demands for dowry by the

accused. In view of the provisions of Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code, as

well as the presumption which arises under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act,
Crl.A.377/2021

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the High Court was clearly not justified in granting bail.

10 The order of the High Court granting bail contains absolutely no reasons at all.

While it is true that at the time of considering an application for bail the High

Court would not be required to launch into a detailed enquiry into the facts

which have to be determined in the course of trial, equally an application of

mind by the High Court to the rival submissions is necessary. The High Court has

merely recorded the submissions and in the extract which we have reproduced

earlier proceeded to grant bail without any evaluation of the rival submissions. In

this context, it would be worthwhile to reproduce the principle which has been

formulated in the two-Judge Bench decision of this Court in Brij Nandan Jaiswal

vs. Munna alias Munna Jaiswal (2009) 1 SCC 678 where the Court observed thus:

“It is now a settled law that the complainant can always
question the order granting bail if the said order is not validly
passed. It is not as if once a bail is granted by any court, the
only way is to get it cancelled on account of its misuse. The
bail order can be tested on merit also. In our opinion,
therefore, the complainant could question the merits of the
order granting bail. However, we find from the order that no
reasons were given by the learned Judge while granting the
bail and it seems to have been granted almost mechanically
without considering the pros and cons of the matter. While
granting bail, particularly in serious cases like murder some
reasons justifying the grant are necessary.”

11 In the earlier part of this judgment, we have extracted the lone sentence in the

order of the High Court which is intended to display some semblance of

reasoning for justifying the grant of bail. The sentence which we have extracted

earlier contains an omnibus amalgam of (i) “the entire facts and circumstances

of the case”; (ii) “submissions of learned Counsel for the parties”; (iii) “the nature
Crl.A.377/2021

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of offence”; (iv) “evidence”; and (v) “complicity of accused”. This is followed by

an observation that the “applicant has made out a case for bail”, “without

expressing any opinion on the merits of the case”. This does not constitute the

kind of reasoning which is expected of a judicial order. The High Court cannot

be oblivious, in a case such as the present, of the seriousness of the alleged

offence, where a woman has met an unnatural end within a year of marriage.

The seriousness of the alleged offence has to be evaluated in the backdrop of

the allegation that she was being harassed for dowry; and that a telephone call

was received from the accused in close-proximity to the time of death, making

a demand. There are specific allegations of harassment against the accused on

the ground of dowry. An order without reasons is fundamentally contrary to the

norms which guide the judicial process. The administration of criminal justice by

the High Court cannot be reduced to a mantra containing a recitation of

general observations. That there has been a judicious application of mind by

the judge who is deciding an application under Section 439 of the CrPC must

emerge from the quality of the reasoning which is embodied in the order

granting bail. While the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons

which matters the most. That is because the reasons in a judicial order unravel

the thought process of a trained judicial mind. We are constrained to make

these observations because the reasons indicated in the judgment of the High

Court in this case are becoming increasingly familiar in matters which come to

this Court. It is time that such a practice is discontinued and that the reasons in

support of orders granting bail comport with a judicial process which brings

credibility to the administration of criminal justice.
Crl.A.377/2021

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12 For the above reasons, we are of the view that the order of the High Court

granting bail without due application of mind to the relevant facts and

circumstances as well to the provisions of the law requires the interference of this

Court.

13 We accordingly allow the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and

order of the Single Judge of the Allahabad High Court dated 1 December 2020

granting bail to the first respondent. The grant of bail to the first respondent shall

accordingly stand set aside and the first respondent shall surrender forthwith.

We, however, clarify that the observations contained in the present order are

confined to the issue of bail and shall not affect the merits of the trial.

14 Pending applications, if any, stand disposed of.

……….……..…………….……………………..J.

[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]

………….…….………..……………….………..J.

[M R Shah]

New Delhi;

April 5, 2021
CKB



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