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Bail is the rule and committal to jail is an exception: High Court of Uttarakhand

Bail is the rule in most cases and refusing bail would be violating the personal liberty of the accused. A single-member bench consisting of Justice Alok Kumar Varma while adjudicating the case of Rakesh Kumar Panwar v State of Uttarakhand [First Bail Application no: 282 of 2021] on the 28th of May 2021, dealt with the granting of bail to a person accused in a high profile scholarship scam.

A First Information Report was lodged on 2nd July 2020 by an informant, Inspector Chandra Bhan Singh Adhikari against Shobhit University, Saharanpur, and Uttar Pradesh with in relation to the alleged scholarship scam. The Applicant’s counsel contended that his client, Rakesh Kumar Panwar was not the director of the entire Shobhit University, but only of the Shakumbhari Para Medical College and Research Centre. The applicant was authorised by Shobit University to open his own extension centre at the premise of Shakumbari Group of Institute. The applicant also contended that he never requested any scholarship from the university and in fact any funds which had been credited to the Shakumbari Para Medical College were returned by him before the FIR was lodged and furthermore that since the charge sheet had already been filed there was no scope for any evidence to be tampered with now. The respondent opposed the any bail, however conceded that all the disputed money had been returned by the applicant before the FIR was filed.

Considering the facts of the case, the Uttarakhand High Court pointed out that in most cases, bail should be granted unless the accused is likely to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence. Additionally the court also mentioned that the actual purpose of detaining an accused person is not punishment but simply ensuring that that his attendance is secured. The court saw no reason not to grant bail to the accused based on the conditions that he attends trial court regularly, does not cause any unnecessary adjournment and does not attempt to induce, promise or threaten any person who is related to the case or the alleged scholarship scam.

Justice Alok Kumar Varma can be quoted as saying “Bail is the rule and committal to jail is an exception. Refusal of bail is a restriction on the personal liberty of the individual, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The object of keeping the accused person in detention during the trial is not punishment. The main purpose is manifestly to secure the attendance of the accused”.

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