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Quality of the reasoning is more important than the length of the reasons while granting Bail: Supreme Court

While granting a bail application is considered a right of the accused since prolonged custody is considered against rule of law but any judicial order granting bail to the accused without any kind of reasoning will be set aside since granting bail without due application of mind to the relevant facts and circumstances as well to the provisions of the law is against the law. This auspicious judgment was passed by the Supreme Court in the matter of SONU V. SONU YADAV AND ANOTHER [Criminal Appeal No 377 of 2021] by Honourable Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud. 

This is an appeal case that arose from a judgment and order by a Single Judge Bench of the High Court of Allahabad in Criminal Miscellaneous Bail Application No 17334 of 2020.

A First Information Report for offenses under Sections 498-A and 304-B of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1861. This First Information Report was registered on the complaint of the appellant, who is the brother of the deceased. The deceased and the first respondent were married and it was alleged in the FIR that a cash amount of Rs 15 lakhs, a motor vehicle, and other household articles were provided in dowry at the time of marriage. However, the respondent and his parents were unsatisfied with the amount given and demanded Rs 5 lakh.

Later the respondent called the complainant demanding the money from him by threatening the life of his sister on 8.02.2019 and he received a phone call requiring him to take away the dead body of his sister on 9.02.2019. After the charge sheet was filed, the respondent filed a bail application which was rejected by the Sessions Judge. He then moved the High Court under Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 and the High Court allowed the application.

The Court observed that “A copy of the medical prescription, which has been submitted before this Court, would prima facie indicate that there was no serious ailment. The medical prescription of the Ayurvedic doctor and the remedies prescribed belie such a claim. Prima facie, there are serious allegations in the FIR in regard to the harassment suffered by the deceased in close proximity to her death over demands for dowry by the accused. In view of the provisions of Section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code, as well as the presumption which arises under Section 113-B of the Evidence Act, the High Court was clearly not justified in granting bail.”

The Court also relied on the Brij Nandan Jaiswal vs. Munna alias Munna Jaiswal (2009) 1 SCC 678 to state that, “While it is true that at the time of considering an application for bail the High Court would not be required to launch into a detailed inquiry into the facts which have to be determined in the course of the trial, equally an application of mind by the High Court to the rival submissions is necessary. The High Court has merely recorded the submissions and in the extract which we have reproduced earlier proceeded to grant bail without any evaluation of the rival submissions.

The Court also stated that “An order without reasons is fundamentally contrary to the norms which guide the judicial process. The administration of criminal justice by the High Court cannot be reduced to a mantra containing a recitation of general observations. That there has been a judicious application of mind by the judge who is deciding an application under Section 439 of the CrPC must emerge from the quality of the reasoning which is embodied in the order granting bail. While the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons which matters the most. That is because the reasons in a judicial order unravel the thought process of a trained judicial mind. We are constrained to make these observations because the reasons indicated in the judgment of the High Court, in this case, are becoming increasingly familiar in matters which come to this Court. It is time that such a practice is discontinued and that the reasons in support of orders granting bail comport with a judicial process which brings credibility to the administration of criminal justice.

Thus, the Court held that “the order of the High Court granting bail without due application of mind to the relevant facts and circumstances as well to the provisions of the law requires the interference of this Court.

Hence, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and set aside the grant of bail to the accused.

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