While hearing a criminal appeal on the decision of the High Court which granted bail to an Accused history-sheeter, the Supreme court held that in such cases, every aspect is to be scrutinized and the potential threat to witnesses and likelihood of repetition of offense is to be kept in mind. This Judgment was passed in the case of Sudha Singh vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr. [Cr.A.No.448/2021] by a Bench consisting of Hon’ble The Chief Justice, Hon’ble Justice A.S. Bopanna, and Hon’ble Justice V. Ramasubramanian.
The criminal appeal was filed against the order of Allahabad High Court granting bail to the accused who was arrested charged for the offense under section 3(1) of the U.P. Gangster and Anti-social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986. The appellant is the wife of a deceased victim who was allegedly murdered by the accused – respondent no. 2 in conspiracy with others. An FIR was registered and a charge sheet for the offenses under sections 120B and 302 of the IPC and sections 2 and 25 of the Arms Act, 1959 was filed against the accused. The allegation is that the accused is a contract killer and a sharpshooter. Further, the accused had been prosecuted in 15 other cases for serious offenses. It was the prosecution case that the accused along with other persons operated an organized crime gang that allegedly committed offenses punishable under Chapters 16, 17, and 22 of the IPC. It is also alleged that the gang instilled extreme fear and terror in the area where it operated and prevented persons from coming forward and lodging police complaints against their activities. It was also contended by the appellant that the grant of bail in a routine manner to such persons had an adverse effect on the law and order situation. the appellant contended that the courts must be extremely careful in releasing the history of those who have been charged with serious offenses like murder, rape, or other kinds of bodily harm several times.
The Supreme court observed that the High Court had overlooked the potential threat to witness while forcing the trial court to grant protection. It went on to hold that in cases such as the present, it was significant to not just look at the present facts and incident and enlarge an accused on bail. The Supreme court relying on its previous judgments held that it was imperative for the High Courts to scrutinize every aspect and not capriciously record that the accused was entitled to be released on bail when the accused was a history-sheeter.
Further, the supreme court referred to a judgment where it had held that while granting bail amongst other facts the likelihood of repetition of the offense, and the behavior, means, position, and standing of the accused and therefore set aside the order of High Court.
The Supreme Court concluded by holding, “There is no doubt that liberty is important, even that of a person charged with crime but it is important for the courts to recognise the potential threat to the life and liberty of victims/witnesses, if such accused is released on bail.”