Delay in lodging FIR can be a valid consideration to grant anticipatory bail: Supreme Court

The delay may not be fatal to the criminal proceedings. However, it always depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case.  However, at the same time, a long delay like 29 years as in the present case can certainly be a valid consideration for grant of anticipatory bail. The judgment was delivered by three judge bench comprising hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice M.R. Shah at Supreme Court in the matter of Sumedh Singh Saini v. State of Punjab and another [CRL. A. NO. 827/2020].  

The appellant in the present appeal has alleged that Balwant Singh (brother of the informant) was illegally abducted from his residence which was at Mohali by those people who were working under the appellant. He was harshly and cruelly tormented while in guardianship, by and at the command of the appealing party. It is additionally asserted that a bogus and created FIR No. 112 of 1991 may have been enrolled at the occasion of the litigant to recommend that the casualty was brought to the police station Qadian from where the casualty was asserted to have gotten away.

The appellant filed anticipatory bail application before the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Mohali. By order dated 10.07.2020, the learned Additional Sessions Judge granted protection by way of three days’ advance notice in case of addition of offence under Section 302 IPC. three   co-­accused   in   FIR   No.   77   dated   06.05.2020 wanted to become approver and they submitted the applications before the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mohali for grant of pardon and declaring them as approver under Section 306 Cr. P.C. However, all three applications came to be dismissed by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mohali, vide order dated 07.8.2020. the appellant applied for anticipatory bail for the offence under Section 302 IPC before the learned Additional Session Judge, Mohali by way of bail application. The learned Additional Sessions Judge vide order dated 01.9.2020 dismissed the said application. That thereafter the appellant approached the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh with an application for grant of anticipatory bail being CRM-M No. 26304 of 2020. By the impugned judgment and order, the High court has dismissed the said anticipatory bail application. Hence, the appellant has preferred the present appeal.  

The hon’ble Supreme Court held that the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court, as well as, the learned Additional Sessions Court dismissing the anticipatory bail applications of the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC FIR No. 77 dated 06.5.2020, registered at P.S. City Mataur, District S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali are hereby quashed the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC in connection with and set aside. It is ordered that in case of arrest of the appellant Sumedh Singh Saini in connection with FIR No. 77 dated 06.5.2020, registered at P.S. City Mataur, District S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC, he shall be released on bail on furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- and two sureties of the like amount and to surrender the passport and to cooperate with the investigation (however without prejudice to his rights and contentions in the pending proceedings to quash the impugned FIR). The appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent.

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