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Allahabad High Court allows bail application of accused stating it cannot deny bail only on the ground of criminal history

The Allahabad High Court while allowing the bail application of an accused, said that cannot denied bail only on the ground of criminal history.

A Single Bench of Justice Vikram D Chauhan passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by Sumit Awasthi.

It is submitted by the counsel for the applicant that the applicant is in jail in various offences since 11.6.2015.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that on the basis of other criminal cases the applicant has been implicated in the case.

As per the allegations in the First Information Report, it is alleged that the applicant along with the other co-accused had been threatening the informant to resign from the earlier criminal proceedings and in this respect the co-accused has fired on the informant, however, no injury was sustained by the informant.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that the incident is of February 2021 and at that point of time the applicant was in jail and it is highly improbable that the applicant would have in any manner participated in the criminal offence.

Counsel for the applicant submitted that there is no evidence against the applicant except the criminal history which has formed the basis for the implication of the applicant in the case.

Counsel for the applicant further submitted that in the previous criminal history there is a dispute with the informant and as a result of the same, the forged and fabricated First Information Reports are being lodged against the applicant.

Counsel for the applicant also submitted that the criminal history of the applicant has been explained in the affidavit which are of 46 criminal cases. However, counsel for the applicant submits that the criminal history itself cannot be a ground for denial of bail when there is no evidence against the applicant in the case particularly when the applicant was in jail when the occurrence took place as per the First Information Report. Applicant is languishing in jail since 19.9.2022 and in case he is released on bail, he will not misuse the liberty of bail and will cooperate in the trial.

Himanshu Mishra, counsel for the informant has opposed the bail application and submits that on the previous occasion there is a dispute with regard to Rs 12 crores being siphoned off. However, he does not dispute the fact that the aforesaid dispute is not within the four corners of the First Information Report and the dispute is with regard to previous offences. He does not dispute the fact that the applicant was in jail on the date of occurrence as stated in the First Information Report.

A.G.A for the State has opposed the bail and submits that the applicant has criminal history.

The Court said that,

It is to be seen that in the case the allegations with regard to firing have been made on the co-accused, Ravi. The applicant, as per the admitted case of the parties, was in jail since 2015 and the complicity of the applicant has been made on the basis of Section 120-B IPC.

A.G.A for the State and counsel for the informant has not been able to establish any material facts and circumstances which shows complicity of the applicant in the case. The applicant cannot be denied bail just on the ground that the applicant is having criminal history, more particularly, when there is no evidence against the applicant in the case.

AGA for the State has pointed out the criminal antecedents of the applicant. No material or circumstance has been brought to the notice of the Court with regard to tampering of evidence or intimidating of witnesses in previous criminal cases.

The Court observed that,

In so far as criminal antecedents of the applicant is concerned, it is not the case of the State that applicant might tamper with or otherwise adversely influence the investigation, or that he might intimidate witnesses before or during the trial. The State has also not placed any material that applicants in past attempted to evade the process of law. If the accused is otherwise found to be entitled to bail, he cannot be denied bail only on the ground of criminal history, no exceptional circumstances on the basis of criminal antecedents have been shown to deny bail to accused, hence, the Court does not feel it proper to deny bail to the applicant just on the ground that he had criminal antecedent.

The principle that Bail is a rule and Jail is an exception has been well recognised by Apex Court more specifically on the touchstone of Article 21 of the Constitution. The said principle has been reiterated by the Apex Court in Satyendra Kumar Antil Vs Central Bureau of Investigation and another, 2022 (10) SCC 51. AGA has not shown any exceptional circumstances which would warrant denial of bail to the applicant.

No material, facts or circumstances has been shown by AGA for the State that the accused may tamper with the evidence or witnesses or the accused is of such character that his mere presence at large would intimidate the witnesses or that accused will use his liberty to subvert justice or tamper with the evidence.

“It is settled principle of law that the object of bail is to secure the attendance of the accused at the trial. No material particulars or circumstances suggestive of the applicant fleeing from justice or thwarting the course of justice or creating other troubles in the shape of repeating offences or intimidating witnesses and the like have been shown by AGA for the State.

AGA for the State has not shown any material or circumstances that the accused/applicant is not entitled to bail in larger interests of the public or State.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, nature of offence, evidence, complicity of the accused, submissions of the counsel for the parties 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 Court further observed while allowing the bail application.

The Court ordered that,

Let the applicant-Sumit Awasthi involved in Case under Sections 386, 307, 506 and 120-B IPC, Police Station Gujaini, District Kanpur Nagar be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond and two sureties each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned subject to the following conditions:-

i. The applicant will not tamper with the evidence during the trial.

ii. The applicant will not pressurize/intimidate the prosecution witness.

iii. The applicant will appear before the trial court on the date fixed, unless personal presence is exempted and/or the applicant shall make himself available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required.

iv. The applicant shall not commit an offence similar to the offence of which he is accused, or suspected, of the commission of which he is suspected.

v. The applicant shall not directly or indirectly make any 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 any police officer or tamper with the evidence.

vi. The applicant shall not leave India without the previous permission of the Court.

vii. In the event, the applicant changes residential address, the applicant shall inform the court concerned about the new residential address in writing.

In case of breach of any of the above conditions, the prosecution shall be at liberty to move bail cancellation application before the Court.

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