Travel not barred, if FIR is lodged:SC

In the case of Parvez Noordin Lokhandwalla Versus State of Maharashtra & Anr. [Cr. Appeal no. 648/2020], the Supreme Court overruled the judgement passed by the Bombay High Court. This remarkable judgement was passed by the Honorable Justice Dr. Dhanajaya Y Chandrachud on 7th October 2020.

The appellant is an Indian citizen and holds an Indian passport. He holds a Green Card, enabling him to reside in the US. He has resided in the US since 1985. It was mandatory for him to return within the stipulated period of his departure from that country, failing which the conditions for revalidation of the Green Card would not be fulfilled. The high court declined to relax the conditions imposed by it for the grant of interim bail on the ground that an FIR has been registered against the appellant which made him file for an appeal to the supreme court. Though the period during which the appellant sought to travel abroad had lapsed, the cause survives. The appellant contented that it was the violation of his fundamental right to travel its curtailment under a judicial order as an incident to regulate conditions governing the grant of bail.

The root cause of the present case was a complaint lodged in January 2014 by Mehraj Rajabali Merchant in the court of the JMFC Thane alleging that the appellant has fabricated a Power of Attorney dated 19 December 2011 by forging the signature of his brother, Shalin Lokhandawalla. On 10 April 2014, the JMFC passed an order, by which he directed an investigation under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure 19732 in terms of the following directions:

“1. The Kapurbavdi police station is directed to register the crime and investigate into the matter.

  1. Further it is hereby directed to submit the report before the court for taking action, if any, u/s.340 of Cr.P.C.”

Further quoting the judgement laid down in the matter of Sumit Mehta v. State (NCT of Delhi), referring to the conditions under Section 438 (2) of the CrPC, the Court observed that a balance has to be struck between the rights of the accused and the enforcement of the criminal justice system while imposing conditions on the grant of bail.

The Court also discussed the scope of the discretion of the court to impose “any condition” on the grant of bail and observed: “The words “any condition” used in the provision should not be regarded as conferring absolute power on a Court of law to impose any condition that it chooses to impose. Any condition has to be interpreted as a reasonable condition acceptable in the facts permissible in the circumstance and effective in the pragmatic sense and should not defeat the order of grant of bail.”

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