Supreme Court: Bail Jurisdiction of High Court shall not have direct bearing on Trial
A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India (SC) consisting of Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant, and Aniruddha Bose, held that a High Court (HC) while exercising bail jurisdiction cannot issue directions that will have a direct bearing upon the trial.
The SC in the case of Prashant Dagajirao Patil (Appellant) v. Vaibhav@ Sonu Arun Pawar and anr. etc. (Respondent) held, "The High Court's direction that the Investigating Officer to examine the CCTV footage and to submit a report, was not sustainable in the eyes of law and deserves to be set aside."
The Bench further stated, "We, set aside the common impugned interim order of the High Court and request the said Court to consider the bail applications of the Respondents pending before it, expeditiously, on its own merits and in accordance with law. It is made clear that we have not expressed anything on the merits of the matter. The appeals are allowed."
The facts of the case are, the FIR was registered on 9 June 2018 against eight persons, including the respondents, under Sections 302, 307, 349, 120(B), 101, 143, 147, 148 and 149, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Sections 4 and 25 of the Indian Arms Act and Sections 37(1)(3) and 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act.
It was alleged that the respondents had threatened the Appellant and his family two days prior to the incident that took place on 8 June 2019 evening. The appellant alleged that he saw some of the accused persons block the car of his elder brother and his nephew.
Then all the accused persons, including the respondents, assaulted them with dangerous weapons. The Appellant's elder brother and nephew allegedly passed away due to the injuries sustained in the incident.
After arrest, a bail application was filed by the respondents before the Trial Court that was rejected. The Respondents moved the High Court (HC) for bail, in which proceedings the impugned interim order has been passed.
The appeals were filed by the Appellant before the SC against the order of Bombay High Court (HC) Bench at Aurangabad. The HC while hearing the bail application of the Respondents directed the Investigating Officer to examine CCTV footage and submit his report.
The appellants submitted that the HC should not have conducted a mini-trial while hearing a bail application. The defense of the Respondents would be examined in full detail during the trial, and should not be pre-decided by the HC during bail proceedings. Hence, orders passed by the HC in relation to such an issue would prejudice the trial.
The Respondents stated that they had been in jail for about 2 years and that an examination of the CCTV footage would prove that they were not present at the time of the incident.
The Apex Court observed that the HC gave directions regarding the CCTV footage on submissions by the counsel for the Respondents before it as they wished to rely on the same to prove their non-participation in the alleged incident.
The Court further observed while analyzing the order of the HC, "While the counsel for the Respondents has attempted to submit before us that such an exercise is necessary, we are not in agreement with the same. When only the limited issue of grant of regular bail to the accused is pending consideration before the High Court, it was not appropriate for it to pass the aforesaid directions which will have a direct bearing upon the trial."