A Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hrishikesh Roy while hearing a batch of appeals arising from a judgment of the Rajasthan High Court where bail was granted to certain accused. It was prayed before the Supreme Court that the order granting bail to the accused be struck down.
Thus, the Supreme Court relied on an earlier judgment of the Court in Ram Govind Upadhyay v. Sudarshan Singh, (2002) 3 SCC 598, to examine what factors must guide the court in the exercise of granting bail to the accused persons. Further, the court referred to Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chatterjee, (2010) 4 SCC 496, for the principles that guide the Court in assessing the correctness of an order passed by the High Court granting bail.
On the facts of the case, the Supreme Court held that the High Court had erred in not considering material relevant to the determination of whether the accused were to be enlarged on bail. The Supreme Court observed that merely recording “having perused the record” and “on the facts and circumstances of the case” does not sub-serve the purpose of a reasoned judicial order. The Court further held that, in the absence of reasons by the Court granting bail, there is a presumption of non-application of mind.
The Supreme Court added,
“Where bail has been granted by a lower court, an appellate court must be slow to interfere and ought to be guided by the principles set out for the exercise of the power to set aside bail.”
Additionally, to distinguish between a challenge to bail being granted and a prayer for cancellation of the same, the court offered the reasoning that the former challenges the bail that has been awarded by the trial court within the tests of perversity, legality and justification, whereas, in the latter instance, where the Court is considering an application for grant of bail, factors such as the supervening conditions and violations of the conditions of the bail by the accused are considered.
Therefore, the order granting bail may be challenged when,
“the order granting bail suffers from a non-application of mind or is not borne out from a prima facie view of the evidence on record.”
The court added a statement while concluding that the interests of the criminal justice system in not affording an opportunity to obstruct justice to those who commit crimes are concerned along with the liberty of the individual. The Supreme Court, thus laid stress on the duty of judges to explain the basis of their conclusion.
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