Vipan Kumar Dhir vs The State Of Punjab on 4 October, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Vipan Kumar Dhir vs The State Of Punjab on 4 October, 2021

Author: Surya Kant

Bench: Hon’Ble The Justice, Surya Kant, Hon’Ble Ms. Kohli

                                                                           REPORTABLE

                                   IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                  CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                              CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.1161­1162 OF 2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CRL.) NOS. 5404­5405 OF 2021)

       Vipan Kumar Dhir
                                                                        ..... Appellant(s)

                                                 VERSUS

       State of Punjab and another                                    ..... Respondent(s)



                                                JUDGMENT

Surya Kant, J.

Leave granted.

2. The challenge laid is to an order dated 28.01.2021 passed by the

High Court of Punjab and Haryana whereby anticipatory bail has been

granted to Respondent No.2 (hereafter ‘Respondent­Accused’), who is

the mother­in­law of the deceased and is charged under Sections

304B, 302 read with 120B of Indian Penal Code (for short “I.P.C.”).

3. The prosecution version in brief is that the appellant (hereafter

‘Complainant’), who is the father of the deceased, lodged an FIR dated

02.10.2017 against 7 accused persons, 4 of whom are members of the
Signature Not Verified

in­laws family of the deceased including the Respondent­Accused. The
Digitally signed by
Vishal Anand
Date: 2021.10.04
18:17:50 IST
Reason:

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Complainant has alleged that his daughter was married to the son of

Respondent­accused on 28­07­2017. Soon thereafter, the accused

family members started to harass and physically torture the deceased

on the pretext of dowry demands. His daughter died an unnatural

death on 02­10­2017 in suspicious circumstances. There are specific

allegations vis­a­vis Respondent­Accused alleging that she exploited

the deceased and deprived her of any chance to recuperate from the

arduous domestic chores. This was despite the fact that deceased was

also working as a full­time lecturer in the local government college. It

was further alleged that due to non­fulfilment of the dowry demands,

the vicious cycle of humiliation and abuse continued to be meted out

to the deceased. The deceased contacted the Complainant on

30­09­2017 and informed that she had been again physically tortured

because of her failure to meet their dowry demands. The Complainant

assured that he would try to amicably settle this household squabble

by coming to her marital home on the very next day. However, this

assurance could never be materialised as the accused are alleged to

have clandestinely administered poison to the deceased on

01.10.2017, which led to her unfortunate demise the following

morning. It is to be noted that the factum of poisoning is supported by

medical evidence gathered by the Investigating Agency.

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4. Soon after the FIR was lodged, the Respondent­Accused moved

an anticipatory bail application before the Sessions Court, which was

rejected on 21.12.2017. Discontented, the Respondent­Accused

approached the High Court for a similar relief, but the petition was

dismissed as withdrawn on 08.03.2018. Meanwhile, on account of

non­cooperation with the ongoing investigation, the SHO of the

concerned police station applied for and got issued arrest warrants

against the Respondent­Accused from Judicial Magistrate. However,

the arrest warrant could not be executed as the Respondent­Accused

had been on the run and she was thus declared an absconder on 23­

04­2018 under Section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for

short, “Cr.P.C.”).

5. The Respondent­Accused continued to evade her arrest until this

Court granted anticipatory bail to her younger son Daksh Adya

(brother­in­law of the deceased) on 22.10.2019. Thereafter, taking

advantage of this subsequent event and presenting the same as a

material change in circumstance, Respondent­Accused filed two

petitions before the High Court, seeking quashing of the order that

declared her a ‘proclaimed offender’ and further sought the relief of

anticipatory bail.

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6. It is noted explicitly that during the pendency of the above­

mentioned proceedings, the High Court granted interim bail to the

Respondent­Accused on 03.12.2020 and pursuant thereto, she joined

the investigation on 07.12.2020. Thereafter, vide the impugned order,

High Court allowed both the petitions and set aside the order

declaring the Respondent­Accused as an absconder and also granted

her anticipatory bail. These reliefs were primarily allowed on two

grounds ­ firstly that the Respondent­Accused had joined the

investigation and undertook to remain present at each date of trial

proceedings; secondly she was entitled to seek parity with the co­

accused Daksh Adya whom this Court granted anticipatory bail.

7. The aggrieved Complainant is before us, contending inter­alia,

that the High Court has committed a grave error of law in over­looking

the well­established principles which guide courts to exercise their

discretion in the matter of granting anticipatory bail. Learned State

Counsel has also supported the cause of Appellant­Complainant.

8. We have heard Learned Counsel for the parties at length and

perused the relevant material placed on record.

9. At the outset, it would be fruitful to recapitulate the well­settled

legal principle that the cancellation of bail is to be dealt on a different

footing in comparison to a proceeding for grant of bail. It is necessary

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that ‘cogent and overwhelming reasons’ are present for the

cancellation of bail. Conventionally, there can be supervening

circumstances which may develop post the grant of bail and are non­

conducive to fair trial, making it necessary to cancel the bail. This

Court in Daulat Ram and others vs. State of Haryana1 observed

that:

“Rejection of bail in a non­bailable case at the initial
stage and the cancellation of bail so granted, have to
be considered and dealt with on different basis. Very
cogent and overwhelming circumstances are
necessary for an order directing the cancellation of the
bail, already granted. Generally speaking, the
grounds for cancellation of bail, broadly (illustrative
and not exhaustive) are: interference or attempt to
interfere with the due course of administration of
Justice or evasion or attempt to evade the due course
of justice or abuse of the concession granted to the
accused in any manner. The satisfaction of the court,
on the basis of material placed on the record of
the possibility of the accused absconding is yet
another reason justifying the cancellation of bail.

However, bail once granted should not be cancelled in
a mechanical manner without considering whether
any supervening circumstances have rendered it no
longer conducive to a fair trial to allow the accused to
retain his freedom by enjoying the concession of bail
during the trial.”

These principles have been reiterated time and again, more

recently by a 3­judge Bench of this Court in X vs. State of Telegana

and Another.2
1
(1995) 1 SCC 349 at ¶ 4.

2

(2018) 16 SCC 511 at ¶ 14­15.

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10. In addition to the caveat illustrated in the cited decision(s), bail

can also be revoked where the court has considered irrelevant factors

or has ignored relevant material available on record which renders the

order granting bail legally untenable. The gravity of the offence,

conduct of the accused and societal impact of an undue indulgence by

Court when the investigation is at the threshold, are also amongst a

few situations, where a Superior Court can interfere in an order of bail

to prevent the miscarriage of justice and to bolster the administration

of criminal justice system. This Court has repeatedly viewed that

while granting bail, especially anticipatory bail which is per se

extraordinary in nature, the possibility of the accused to influence

prosecution witnesses, threatening the family members of the

deceased, fleeing from justice or creating other impediments in the fair

investigation, ought not to be overlooked.

11. Broadly speaking, each case has its own unique factual scenario

which holds the key for adjudication of bail matters including

cancellation thereof. The offence alleged in the instant case is heinous

and protrudes our medieval social structure which still wails for

reforms despite multiple efforts made by Legislation and Judiciary.

12. In the case in hand, the High Court seems to have been

primarily swayed by the fact that the Respondent­Accused was ‘co­

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operating’ with investigation. This is, however, contrary to the record

as the Respondent­Accused remained absconding for more than two

years after being declared a proclaimed offender on 23.04.2018. She

chose to join investigation only after securing interim bail from the

High Court. She kept on hiding from the Investigating Agency as well

as Magistrate’s Court till she got protection against arrest from the

High Court in the 2nd round of bail proceedings.

13. Even if there was any procedural irregularity in declaring the

Respondent­Accused as an absconder, that by itself was not a

justifiable ground to grant pre­arrest bail in a case of grave offence

save where the High Court on perusal of case­diary and other material

on record is, prima facie, satisfied that it is a case of false or over­

exaggerated accusation. Such being not the case here, the High Court

went on a wrong premise in granting anticipatory bail to the

Respondent­Accused.

14. The ground of parity with co­accused Daksh Adya invoked by the

High Court is equally unwarranted. The allegations in the FIR against

the Respondent­Mother­in­Law and her younger son Daksh Adya are

materially different. It is indubitable that some of the allegations

against all the family members are common but there are other

specific allegations accusing the Respondent­Accused of playing a key

role in the alleged offence. The conduct of the Respondent­Accused in

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absconding for more than two years without any justifiable reason

should have weighed in mind while granting her any discretionary

relief. These facts put her on a starkly different pedestal than the co­

accused with whom she seeks parity. We are, thus, of the considered

view that the High Court has wrongly accorded the benefit of parity in

favour of the Respondent­Accused. It has to be borne in mind that

the deceased met with a tragic end within three months of her

marriage. While it is too early to term it an offence under Sections 302

or 304B I.P.C., but the fact remains that a young life came to an

abrupt end before realizing any of her dreams which were grimly

shattered. She died an unnatural death in her matrimonial home.

The Respondent­Accused is the mother­in­law of the deceased. The

Investigating Agency, therefore, deserves a free hand to investigate the

role of the Respondent­Accused, if any, in the unnatural and untimely

death of her daughter in­law.

15. Learned Senior Counsel for the Respondent­Accused may be

right in contending that the Appellant­Complainant has widened the

net and included even other than the family members of the in­laws of

the deceased. According to him, the entire version of the Appellant­

Complainant should be seen with suspicious eyes as he being a retired

District Attorney, has a legally trained mind. We do not deem it

necessary to comment upon this contention at this stage. Suffice to

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mention that the needle of suspicion revolves around only against the

Respondent­Accused and her family members while at this stage the

others have been found innocent by the investigating agency.

16. In light of the above discussion and without expressing any

views on merit, we set aside the impugned order of the High Court

dated 28.01.2021 and direct the Respondent­Accused to surrender

before the Trial Court within a period of one week. We make it clear

that the observations made herein above are limited for the purposes

of present proceedings and would not be construed as any opinion on

the merits of the case. We also clarify that after the surrender, the

Respondent­Accused will be free to seek regular bail before the

concerned Trial Court and any such prayer shall be decided as per

law, without being influenced by this order.

The appeals are disposed of in the above terms.

..…………………….. CJI.

(N.V. RAMANA)
………..………………… J.

(SURYA KANT)

………..………………… J.

(HIMA KOHLI)
NEW DELHI
DATED : 04.10.2021

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