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The matter of granting bail always calls for judicious exercise of discretion by the Court: High Court of Delhi

There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding grant or refusal of bail, each case has to be considered on its own merits. While granting bail, the relevant considerations are: (i) nature of seriousness of the offence; (ii) character of the evidence and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused; and (iii) likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice; (iv) the impact that his release may make on the prosecution witnesses, its impact on the society; and (v) likelihood of his tampering. The matter always calls for judicious exercise of discretion by the Court and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri in the case of ANUJ GUPTA vs. CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION [BAIL APPLN. 279/2022] on 23.02.2022.

The facts of the case are that the plaintiff who is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA), was arrested and was remanded to police custody and ever since, he is in judicial custody. As per the prosecution case, the applicant’s phone was on surveillance, however no transcript of any conversation has been placed on record to back-up the allegation that the applicant was aware of the facts or involved in any other illegal activity. There is no record of any call between the applicant and the accused, except one call which was made by the applicant at the instance of the CBI officials and another call which was received by the applicant from Akil Ahmad during the trap proceedings, after recovery of the bribe money, which is hit by Section 162 Cr.P.C.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that when accused met the applicant to hand over the bag containing Rs.20 lacs, the applicant had no knowledge of the nature of the transaction and/or the fact that the bag he was receiving contained payment towards bribe to Akil Ahmad. It was also urged that the case of the applicant is on a better footing than that of co-accused persons, who have already been released on regular bail.

The respondent’s counsel submitted that the applicant has been a Chartered Accountant for the accused/Akil Ahmad as well as his wife. It was further submitted that only the co-accused persons who were involved in the process of giving of bribe have been released on bail, however, the applicant and the accused/Akil Ahmad, for whom the applicant accepted the bribe, have been denied the relief.

The Court in view of facts and circumstances held that the alleged offence is serious in nature and considering the professional capabilities of the applicant, his release is likely to impact further investigation, as he may tamper with the evidence but since the the documents relating to the case are in the custody of the prosecuting agency, Government of India and the Court and there is no chance of the appellant tampering with evidence. Therefore, the Court released the present applicant on bail during the pendency of the trial.

The Court observed, “While granting bail, the relevant considerations are: (i) nature of seriousness of the offence; (ii) character of the evidence and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused; and (iii) likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice; (iv) the impact that his release may make on the prosecution witnesses, its impact on the society; and (v) likelihood of his tampering. No doubt, this list is not exhaustive. There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding grant or refusal of bail, each case has to be considered on its own merits. The matter always calls for judicious exercise of discretion by the Court.”

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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