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Judges are duty-bound to state reasons for granting and denying bail- Karnataka High Court

-Report by Monishka Allhabadi

The Karnataka High Court recently ruled that an order granting or refusing regular bail must be a speaking order, and courts must consider all evidence on record before reaching a decision. While overturning the Special judge’s order, the court also stated that the Court is required to provide reasons for granting or denying bail, particularly in cases involving serious offences. When a Court hearing a bail application fails to consider all relevant factors, an appellate Court may rightfully overturn the order.

In NELSON RAJ v. THE STATE OF KARNATAKA, the accused had been charged with violating Sections 302, 120B, and 149 of the IPC, as well as Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. As a result, the appellant filed a petition before the Special Court under Section 439 of the Cr.Pc., requesting that they be released on bail. Following that, the Special Court denied the bail request.

Three Criminal Appeals were filed under Section 14(A) of the SC/ST (POA) Act, challenging the special court’s order and praying for an order of regular bail under Section 14(A)(2) of the SC/ST (POA) Act.

CONTENTIONS OF THE APPELLANTS:

The appellants argued that after the appellants were apprehended, the alleged eyewitnesses did not identify them. Their statements recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C are contradictory. It is also claimed that some names of people who have been accused of the offence are not even mentioned in the FIR. Furthermore, the appellants’ liberty has been restricted due to their detention in judicial custody.

RESPONDENTS CONTENTION:

They asserted that due to the heinous nature of the offence committed and the presence of eyewitnesses to the incident in question, the learned Special Judge has correctly denied the bail petition. As a result, it is not a suitable case to release the appellants on bail.

DECISION:

The Bench noted some well-established primary considerations in deciding whether to grant bail. The Bench went on to say that if a court hearing a bail application fails to consider the relevant factors, an appellate court may rightfully overturn the order.

Bail orders, whether granting or refusing, cannot be issued mechanically or in a cryptic manner without taking into account the material facts of the case. The court must provide reasons for granting or denying bail, especially in serious cases.

While overturning the order, the HC held

that when a court considers an application for bail, the Court is required to consider all contentions raised and pass an appropriate order. It is necessary to examine the evidence on record that appears to link the accused to the crime, and based on that evidence, the Court can determine whether a prima facie case has been established and assign reasons for either granting or rejecting a bail petition.”

Furthermore, the court directed the special judge to rehear the parties involved and issue orders on the bail application in accordance with the law as soon as possible.

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