The Chhattisgarh High Court, on 4th January 2021, in the matter of “Bhagwat Joshi v. State of Chhattisgarh [Cr.M.P.No.1395 of 2020]”, observed that, “The Condition for grant of bail should not be stringent, as it would violate the accused’s Right of Personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The Bench of Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal further quoted Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who, in the matter of “Babu Singh & others v. The State of U.P. (1978) 1 SCC 579)”, while speaking for the Supreme Court noted, “The delicate light of the law favours release unless countered by the negative criteria necessitating that course. The corrective instinct of the law plays upon release orders by strapping on to them protective and curative conditions. Heavy bail from poor men is obviously wrong. Poverty is society’s malady and sympathy, not sternness, is the judicial response.”
In the present matter, the petitioner was being tried for offence under Section 420/34 of the Indian Penal Code (deals with deals with cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), for which he filed an application under Section 437 of the Criminal Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to as ‘CrPc’) for grant of bail (Section 437 of CrPc talks about grant of bail for any person accused of, or suspected of, the commission of an offence, while keeping in mind certain conditions), which was eventually granted by the learned magistrate, with a condition of furnishing bank guarantee or cash Rupees 2,00,000/-. On seeking revision by the petitioner, the amount was reduced to Rupees 1,00,000/-, along with furnishing of bail bond of Rupees 10,000/-.
In response to the new condition of bail, the learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner was a marginal agriculturist, residing in a small village, and the condition imposed for bail was “excessively onerous”, and would ultimately result in the denial of bail itself, hence violating the petitioner’s Right to Personal Liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, this stringent condition imposed by the learned Magistrate while granting bail deserved to be set-aside. To this, the learned counsel for the State remarked that, “it is purely a judicial order and the State has limited role, but the condition should be reasonable.”
The court observed that, “It is well settled law that while exercising jurisdiction under Section 437/439 of the CrPC, it is duty of the Court to see that condition for grant of bail should not be arbitrary or capricious, it should be just and reasonable and it cannot insist the accused to give cash security or to provide local surety. An essential requirement in the imposition of any condition is that it should result in minimum interference with the personal liberty of accused and rights of police to investigate the case.”
The High Court ultimately relied upon various precedents laid down by various High Courts of India including, “Keshab Narayan Banerjee and another v. The State of Bihar”; “K.L. Verma v. State and another”; “Sumit Mehta v. State (NCT of Delhi)”; “Moti Ram and others v. State of Madhya Pradesh”; and “Hussainara Khatton and others v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, Patna”; while setting aside the previous condition, and directing the release of the accused on the condition of furnishing of a Bail Bond of Rupees 20,000/-, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.