Distinction between application for cancellation of bail and appeal preferred against order granting bail

In Union of India Versus Hassan Ali Khan and Another[(2011) 11 SCALE 302]

“Section 439(2) Code of Criminal Procedure are concerned, we cannot ignore the distinction between an application for cancellation of bail and an appeal preferred against an order granting bail. The two stand on different footings. While the ground for cancellation of bail would relate to post-bail incidents, indicating misuse of the said privilege, an appeal against an order granting bail would question the very legality of the order passed. This difference was explained by this Court in State of U.P. v. Amarmani Tripathi, (2005) 8 SCC 21“.

In S.N. Bhattacharjee vs. State of West Bengal (2004) 11 SCC 165 where the above principle is reiterated. The decisions in Dolat Ram and Bhattacharjee cases (supra) relate to applications for cancellation of bail and not appeals against orders granting bail. In an application for cancellation, conduct subsequent to release on bail and the supervening circumstances alone are relevant. But in an appeal against grant of bail, all aspects that were relevant under Section 439 read with Section 437, continue to be relevant. We, however, agree that while considering and deciding appeals against grant of bail, where the accused has been at large for a considerable time, the post bail conduct and supervening circumstances will also have to be taken note of. But they are not the only factors to be considered as in the case of applications for cancellation of bail.

19. It is well settled that the matters to be considered in an application for bail are (i) whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence; (ii) nature and gravity of the charge; (iii) severity of the punishment in the event of conviction; (iv) danger of accused absconding or fleeing if released on bail; (v) character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the accused; (vi) likelihood of the offence being repeated; (vii) reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being tampered with; and (viii) danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail (see Prahlad Singh Bhati vs. NCT, Delhi (2001) 4 SCC 280 and Gurcharan Singh vs. State (Delhi Administration) AIR 1978 SC 179). While a vague allegation that accused may tamper with the evidence or witnesses may not be a ground to refuse bail, if the accused is of such character that his mere presence at large would intimidate the witnesses or if there is material to show that he will use his liberty to subvert justice or tamper with the evidence, then bail will be refused. We may also refer to the following principles relating to grant or refusal of bail stated in Kalyan Chandra Sarkar vs. Rajesh Ranjan, (2004) 7 SCC 528:

“The law in regard to grant or refusal of bail is very well settled. The court granting bail should exercise its discretion in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course. Though at the stage of granting bail a detailed examination of evidence and elaborate documentation of the merit of the case need not be undertaken, there is a need to indicate in such orders reasons for prima facie concluding why bail was being granted particularly where the accused is charged of having committed a serious offence. Any order devoid of such reasons would suffer from non-application of mind. It is also necessary for the court granting bail to consider among other circumstances, the following factors also before granting bail;

they are:

a. The nature of accusation and the severity of punishment in case of conviction and the nature of supporting evidence.

b. Reasonable apprehension of tampering with the witness or apprehension of threat to the complainant.

c. Prima facie satisfaction of the court in support of the charge. (See Ram Govind Upadhyay vs. Sudarshan Singh, (2002) 3 SCC 598 and Puran vs. Ram Bilas (2001) 6 SCC 338.”

This Court also in specific terms held that:

“the condition laid down under section 437(1)(i) is sine qua non for granting bail even under section 439 of the Code. In the impugned order it is noticed that the High Court has given the period of incarceration already undergone by the accused and the unlikelihood of trial concluding in the near future as grounds sufficient to enlarge the accused on bail, in spite of the fact that the accused stands charged of offences punishable with life imprisonment or even death penalty. In such cases, in our opinion, the mere fact that the accused has undergone certain period of incarceration (three years in this case) by itself would not entitle the accused to being enlarged on bail, nor the fact that the trial is not likely to be concluded in the near future either by itself or coupled with the period of incarceration would be sufficient for enlarging the appellant on bail when the gravity of the offence alleged is severe and there are allegations of tampering with the witnesses by the accused during the period he was on bail.”

20. In Panchanan Mishra vs. Digambar Mishra (2005) 3 SCC 143, this Court observed:

“The object underlying the cancellation of bail is to protect the fair trial and secure justice being done to the society by preventing the accused who is set at liberty by the bail order from tampering with the evidence in the heinous crime…It hardly requires to be stated that once a person is released on bail in serious criminal cases where the punishment is quite stringent and deterrent, the accused in order to get away from the clutches of the same indulge in various activities like tampering with the prosecution witnesses, threatening the family members of the deceased victim and also create problems of law and order situation.”

21. Therefore, the general rule that this Court will not ordinarily interfere in matters relating to bail, is subject to exceptions where there are special circumstances and when the basic requirements for grant of bail are completely ignored by the High Court. (see Pawan vs. Ram Prakash Pandey (2002) 9 SCC 166; Ram Pratap Yadav vs. Mitra Sen Yadav (2003) 1 SCC 15 and Kalyan Chandra Sarkar vs. Rajesh Ranjan (2004) 7 SCC 528.

22. While a detailed examination of the evidence is to be avoided while considering the question of bail, to ensure that there is no pre-judging and no prejudice, a brief examination to be satisfied about the existence or otherwise of a prima facie case is necessary. An examination of the material in this case, set out above, keeping in view the aforesaid principles, disclose prima facie, the existence of a conspiracy to which Amarmani and Madhumani were parties. The contentions of Respondents that the confessional statement of Rohit Chaturvedi is inadmissible in evidence and that should be excluded from consideration, for purpose of bail is untenable. This Court had negatived a somewhat similar contention, in Kalyan Chandra Sarkar (supra) thus:

“The next argument of learned counsel for the respondent is that prima facie the prosecution has failed to produce any material to implicate the respondent in the crime of conspiracy. In this regard he submitted that most of the witnesses have already turned hostile. The only other evidence available to the prosecution to connect the respondent with the crime is an alleged confession of the co-accused which according to the learned counsel was inadmissible in evidence. Therefore, he contends that the High Court was justified in granting bail since the prosecution has failed to establish even a prima facie case against the respondent. From the High Court order we do not find this as a ground for granting bail. Be that as it may, we think that this argument is too premature for us to accept. The admissibility or otherwise of the confessional statement and the effect of the evidence already adduced by the prosecution and the merit of the evidence that may be adduced hereinafter including that of the witnesses sought to be recalled are all matters to be considered at the stage of the trial.”[State of U.P. v. Amarmani Tripathi, (2005) 8 SCC 21]