Past judgements cannot be held binding on the court in matters relating to bail even if the offences are of similar nature – High court of Meghalaya.

Every case regarding bail application must be analysed on a case-to-case basis in light of the facts and circumstances. “On perusal of the citations relied upon by the learned counsel for the Petitioner, what is noticed is that the accused persons in those cases were enlarged on bail on particular facts and circumstances which were not elaborated in the said judgments, though the offence involved are similar to the offence alleged to have been committed by the accused herein. This being the case, this Court respectfully decline to apply the ratio of the cited cases to the case in hand, under the peculiar facts and circumstances of this instant case”, said Hon’ble Mr. Justice W. Diengdoh in the case of Smti. Biolinda Sten Vs. State of Meghalaya & Anr. [BA. No. 4 of 2021]

The facts of the case are Shri Sharingstar Sten was accused of sexually assaulting a minor who is a person with disability at Jariot Village. An FIR was registered against him under Section 5(k)/6 of the POCSO Act after which an investigation was launched. The investigating officer reported that the accused had absconded and hence a case was established against him. The trial court issued a Non-Bailable Warrant of Arrest. The police apprehended the accused and produced him before the Trial where he was remanded to judicial custody. The bail application was rejected by the trial court four times and is now filed before the High Court.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the accused never received a summon against him. He has also denied the knowledge of an FIR filed against him. It was also argued that the minor in question was not a minor in reality since the medical reports declared her to be above age 18. Another contention which was raised was that case has not progressed since the last eight dates and considering the pandemic, there is every likelihood of the case not progressing at all and as such, incarcerating the accused is of no use. The counsel cited Gulabbhai Parvatbhai Vadi v. State of Gujarat” LAWS(GJH)-2021-1-4- 4, where the court held, “by the applicant who was accused of committing an offence, inter alia, under Section 5j(ii),6 of the POCSO Act, the Hon’ble Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that since investigation is completed and charge sheet has been filed and in view of the COVID-19 situation, there is no possibility of trial commencing in the near future, bail was accordingly granted”.

The single judge bench in the present case has placed greater importance on the general guidelines governing bail and said that “Hon’ble Supreme Court as well as the High Courts have maintained that grant or refusal of bail would basically depend on the particular facts and circumstances of a case, however the general guidelines that have been followed in this regard would be that a competent court of jurisdiction before coming to any decision would be well advised to consider”. Possibility of the accused absconding is a general guideline which in the current case, asper the previously established facts as been revealed that the accused had absconded. Considering this, the bail application was rejected.

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