|Consider nature of accusation and severity of punishment on conviction|
New Delhi: The High Courts and subordinate courts should give reasons while granting bail in criminal cases, the Supreme Court has said.
A Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta said: "There is need to indicate in the order reasons for prima facie concluding why bail was being granted particularly if an accused was charged with having committed a serious offence."
While dealing with bail applications, the courts should consider "the nature of accusation and the severity of punishment in case of conviction and the nature of supporting evidence; a reasonable apprehension of tampering with witnesses or an apprehension of threat to the complainant and prima facie satisfaction of the court in support of the charge."
Writing the judgment for the Bench, Justice Pasayat said: "Though a detailed examination of the evidence and elaborate documentation of the merits of the case is yet to be avoided while passing orders on bail applications, a court should be satisfied whether there is a prima facie case. But exhaustive exploration of the merits of the case is not necessary. The court is required to exercise its discretion in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course."
In the instant case, Gajanand Agarwal was aggrieved at the Orissa High Court granting bail to two accused in a criminal case, initiated on his complaint. The order simply said that "in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case" the bail was being granted.
Allowing the appeals, the Bench said: "Even a cursory perusal of the High Court's order shows complete non-application of mind. Any order without such reasons suffers from non-application of mind. The least that the High Court could have done is to refer to the earlier orders and, in fact, as to how the scenario changed to warrant a departure from the earlier view expressed [rejecting the bail]. That apparently has not been done."
Was State a spectator?
The Bench said, "What is more baffling is that in the impugned orders there is no mention of the State's stand. Was it a silent spectator before the High Court?" Deprecating such orders, the Bench directed the High Court to reconsider the bail applications in accordance with the law and keeping in view the principles set out.
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