Saturday, February 24, 2024

Supreme Court criticises Bihar Police for assuming that "the accused has to appear before him and prove his innocence", grants absolute relief to the accused

The petitioners, Md. Sahzad and Md. Tauhid sought pre-arrest bail from Patna High Court in connection with Jehanabad Nagar P.S. Case No.158 of 2023 registered for the offences punishable under Sections 341, 323, 325, 307 and 506/34 of the Indian Penal Code. The case was filed on July 1, 2023 and registered on July 14, 2023.

It was submitted that as per the present First Information Report, Md. Sahzad, the petitioner no.1 is said to have assaulted the informant and his brother-in-law by iron rod. As per counter case, the petitioner no.1 was assaulted by the informant’s side in which his left hand has been fractured. So far as Md. Tauhid, the petitioner no.2 is concerned, there is no specific allegation against him in the First Information Report. The Court of Justice Rajeev Ranjan Prasad discovered that the petitioner no. 1 had obtained the character certificate containing a false declaration that there is no record of a criminal case against him in Jehanabad police station. The Court asked the Superintendent of Police, Jehanabad, who has issued the certificate to conduct an inquiry as to how and under what circumstances the character certificate declaring that the petitioner had no criminal records in Jehanabad police station was issued. The Court directed that upon completion of inquiry within a period of three months from the date of receipt/communication of a copy of the Patna High Court CR. MISC. No.45266 of 2023(5) dt.11-10-2023 5/5 order, he has to fix the responsibility in this regard and inform the Court.The Court refused their prayer for grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioner because they made false statement regarding their criminal antecedents. The application was disposed of on October 11, 2023. 

The petitions for Special Leave to Appeal (Criminal) No. 15538/2023 were filed in the Supreme Court against the High Court order. On December 6, 2023, the Supreme Court's bench of  Justices Abhay S. Oka and Pankaj Mitha observed that "As regard the first petitioner-Md.Sahzad @ Baratu @ Barat, we agree with the High Court that no case was made out to grant him benefit of pre-arrest bail." It dismissed his Special Leave Petition saying, "We grant him time of two weeks to surrender. After surrendering, if he makes an application for regular bail, the same shall be decided on its own merits." 

With regard to the second petitioner, on the perusal of the allegations made in the First Information report, the Court found that a case is made out to protect the second petitioner-Md.Tauhid @ Kallu. It passed an interim order saying, "the petitioner No.2 shall not be arrested in connection with FIR No.158 of 2023 registered at City Police Station, District Jehanabad, Bihar subject to the condition that he will always cooperate for investigation."  

Subsequently, in Criminal Appeal No. 721 of 2024 arising out of S.L.P. (Criminal No.15538 of 2023, on February 8, 2024, the Court observed, "From 6th December, 2023 till date, the appellant-Md. Tauhid @ Kallu was called upon to join the investigation only once on 15th January, 2024." It took note of Paragraph 9 of the counter affidavit which reads: “That further as per order of Hon’ble Supreme Court I.O has served notice to petitioner Tauhid @ Kallu, Manoj Singh on 15/01/2024 to join the investigation as mentioned in paragraph-71 of C.D. and thereafter Tauhid @ Kallu, Manoj Singh appeared before I.O. on 24/01/2024 and on interrogation pleaded himself innocent but did not produce and material in support of his claim.” It underlined this contention to observe that "From paragraph 9 of the counter affidavit, it is obvious that the Police need the custody of the appellant-Md. Tauhid @ Kallu, not for interrogation but for some other reason. We must also record that the approach of the Police reflected from paragraph 9 of the counter affidavit, to say the least, is shocking. The Police Officer seems to be under an impression that the accused has to appear before him and prove his innocence. Such approach cannot be countenanced." In this backdrop, the order of Supreme Court's bench of Justices Abhay S. Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan reads: "The interim order dated 6th December, 2023 is made absolute on the same terms and conditions. The Appeal is, accordingly, allowed." It disposed of the pending applications.


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