SUPREME COURT: GRAVITY OF OFFENCE BE CONSIDERED FOR ANTICIPATORY BAIL

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The Supreme Court has pulled up Punjab and Haryana High Court for granting anticipatory bail to those involved in a criminal conspiracy and cheating without taking the gravity of the offence into account and also for imposing unwarranted conditions for grant of pre-arrest bail, in two separate cases.

The High Court had granted bail to a woman, Ramathal and her associates who had allegedly cheated a person to the tune of Rs 32.5 lakh.

The accused had allegedly sold the property situated in Coimbatore on the basis of forged and bogus documents. The property had already been mortgaged with Punjab National Bank and a loan was also taken from another financial institution on it.

In another case, accused persons I Glaskasden Grace and his accomplices cheated a woman and her son-in-law to the tune of Rs 62,62,000 for a property located in the same city in Tamil Nadu.

The complaint was filed by one B Nagalakshmi against M Mani, a property dealer and other accused of cheating her of the amount on the basis of bogus papers and false sale deed.

In this case, the High Court, while granting anticipatory bail to the accused under 438 Cr. PC, directed them to deposit the title deed of property worth Rs 20 lakhs standing either in their name or in the name of third party.

A bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Mukundakam Sharma while setting aside the impugned order of the High Court noted, ‘it is not disclosed from the record that the High Court considered the entire facts of the case in proper perspective and proceeded to dispose off the prayer for anticipatory bail oblivious of the facts of the case and contrary to correct legal position with regard to law relating to grant of anticipatory bail.

‘The High Court should have considered the entire facts of the case including the gravity of the offence alleged and in the light thereof should have considered the prayer for grant of anticipatory bail.

In view of the matter, we feel that the entire order passed by the High Court is required to be set aside and the matter to be reconsidered in accordance with law and in terms of the observations made herein,’ the court said.

Justice Sharma, writing both the judgments for the bench, remanded the matter back to the High Court with directions to consider afresh the prayer of the appellants in the light of the gravity of the offence to decide whether to grant the prayer for anticipatory bail.

The apex court also directed the High Court to pass a reasoned order as expeditiously as possible, preferably with in a period of six weeks from the date of the communication of the order.

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