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Quality reasoning for granting bail necessary for the application of Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure: Supreme Court

When the High Courts grant bail vide the power vested to them under Section 439 of the code of Criminal Procedure, their order must be accompanied by a quality set of reasons for the grant of bail which the norm of the judicial process. The following judgment was passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Sonu vs Sonu Yadav and Another [Crl. A. 377/2021] by a Double Bench consisting of Hon’ble Shri Justice  Dr. D Y Chandrachud and Hon’ble Shri Justice M R Shah.

The present judgment was a criminal appeal filed against the order passed by the high court of judicature of Allahabad under the Criminal Bail Application. An FIR was filed in District Etwah for the offenses mentioned under section 498A and 304B of the Indian penal Code and Section 3 and section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1861. The same was filed by the brother of the deceased against the first respondent. It was further alleged that while the parents of the first respondent were not satisfied with the dowry, the first respondent made a phone call to the appellant stating that if Rs. 5 lakhs were not given the appellant’s sister would not be alive. The next day morning the appellant received a call to take away his Sister’s body.

While the bail application was rejected by the sessions judge the High Court allowed the same under section 439 of the CrPC and granted bail without stating any reasons. The counsel for the appellant contended that there was absolutely no reason given for the grant of bail, the medication was prescribed a month before the incident, and the prescription-only supports that the deceased was undergoing medical treatment. Further, since the death happened within 1 year of marriage and based on Section 304B of the Indian penal code and the presumptions under section 113A and 113B of the Indian Evidence act; there exists no ground for bail. The counsel appearing on behalf of the first respondent argued that the High Court did not comment as it would impede the trial, the findings suggest hanging and no complicity of the First respondent, and therefore the court should not interfere in the grant of bail.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the medical prescription depicts how much the deceased had been mentally harassed in relation to the dowry given that the deceased had no serious ailment. Further based on section 304B of the Indian penal code and 113B of the Indian Evidence Act the High Court is not justified in granting bail.

Further, it relied on the case of Brij Nandan Jaiswal vs. Munna alias Munna Jaiswal [2009 1 SCC 678] decided by a two-judge Bench, wherein they observed, “while granting bail, particularly in serious cases like murder some reasons justifying the grant are necessary.” Relying on the same the Supreme Court held that order without reasons is contrary to the judicial process and the administration of criminal justice cannot be reduced to general observations. Further, it adjudicated that since the High Court granted bail without due application of mind to the facts and circumstances of the case and the provision of law, the law seeks the court to interfere in the matter.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “The grant of bail to the first respondent shall accordingly stand set aside and the first respondent shall surrender forthwith. We, however, clarify that the observations contained in the present order are confined to the issue of bail and shall not affect the merits of trial.”

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