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Imposing a pre-condition to pay a sum of money for being released on bail is unreasonable: Bombay High Court

In order for an individual to avail a release on bail, imposition of payment of a certain sum as a pre-condition is unreasonable. A single-judge bench comprising of Justice Sarang V. Kotwal while adjudicating the matter in Vijaykumar Deshraj Sethi v. Senior Police Inspector, Malegaon Camp police station, Malegaon and others; [CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO. 70 OF 2021], modified a bail order passed by a Malegaon session judge.

An FIR was lodged by the respondent wherein he stated that he was engaged in the medical profession and he wanted to purchase an MRI machine. The applicant told him that he was in a position to import an MRI machine which cost about one crore. The respondent entered into an agreement with the applicant. In furtherance of the agreement, the respondent initially paid him about 25 lakhs. Despite receiving the advance, the applicant did not supply the machine. The counsel representing the applicant stated that this case was a mere breach of contract and no offense of cheating and misappropriation is made out. Therefore, the applicant deserves to be released on bail. The counsel representing the respondent submitted that the respondent is deprived of his legitimate amount. She contended that this is purely a civil dispute. However, she demanded that before the applicant is released on bail, he must submit the amount of 25 lakhs which he received as an advance. The counsel representing the applicant stated that the pre-condition of remitting 25 lakhs in order to get a bail is unreasonable.

The Court upon considering the facts of the case, set aside the operative part of the order by the lower court and instead released the applicant on bail by imposing certain conditions. The Court remarked; “Therefore, for more than one year and three months the Applicant was unable to avail of that order because of the onerous pre-condition of depositing Rs.25 Lakhs…imposing Rs.25 Lakhs as a pre-condition in the operative part was not permissible. There is absolutely no discussion in the order as to why such condition was imposed; It appears that since the FIR mentions that Rs.25 Lakhs were paid by the informant, the condition was imposed that Rs.25 Lakhs should be deposited. This is prejudging the issue without trial. It is well settled in different judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court that such conditions should not be imposed”

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