The Chhattisgarh High Court has recently granted anticipatory bail to former Bureaucrat Aman Kumar Singh and his wife Yasmin Singh in a disproportionate assets (DA) case.

The Court said that the applicants are residents of India and in past, they have held high offices, hence, there is no likelihood of the applicants fleeing or absconding from the administration of justice.

A Single Bench of Justice Rakesh Mohan Pandey held, “On 06.03.2022 the applicant Aman Kumar Singh was interrogated by the ACB/EOW for about eight - nine hours and this fact has not been disputed by the counsel appearing for the State. In such a situation, question of non-cooperation doesn’t arise. The applicants are residents of India and in past they have held high offices, therefore, there is no likelihood of the applicants fleeing or absconding from administration of justice. The possibility of applicants tampering with the witnesses is also negligible as mostly the evidences are in the form of documents and as what appears from the cause title that the applicant – Aman Kumar Singh is resident of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, whereas applicant – Yasmin Singh lives in Bhopal, M.P.”

The Bench also noted that there are no previous criminal antecedents of the applicants which is a relevant factor in refusing or granting the anticipatory bail and Aman Singh is still cooperating with the investigation agency.

Senior Advocates Anil Khare and Abhishek Sinha, and Advocate Vivek Sharma represented the applicants while AAG Amrito Das, Senior Advocate Manoj Sharma, and Advocate Md. Ruhul Amin Memon represented the respondents.

Facts -

The instant bail applications were filed by the applicants for grant of anticipatory bail, who were apprehending their arrest in connection with the offence punishable under Sections 13(1)(b) and (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. It was alleged that Aman Singh managed to amass disproportionate assets of more than Rs. 2500 crores and that his family was involved in corruption and money laundering.

It was further alleged that the assets held by Aman’s wife were disproportionate to their legal sources of income. The Chief Minister directed the Chief Secretary of the State to have the complaint enquired by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in this matter and consequently, a preliminary enquiry was registered.

The Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “There is no hard and fast rule regarding grant or refusal to grant bail. Each case has to be considered on the facts and circumstances of the case and on its own merits. The discretion of the Court has to be exercised judiciously and not in an arbitrary manner.”

The Court further observed that there is no bar in granting anticipatory bail to a person accused of committing an economic offence and the only bar which provides the statute is laid down under sub-section (4) of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“… the refusal or grant of anticipatory bail must be based upon judicious use of discretion with caution, having regard to the facts of every case and particularly, bearing in mind two competitive interests viz. the power of the Police to freely investigate into the offence and liberty of an individual, therefore, a balance has to be struck between two factors, namely, no prejudice should be caused to the free, fair and full investigation and there should be prevention of harassment, humiliation and unjustified detention of the accused”, asserted the Court.

The Court said that the accused is not obliged to make out a special case for the grant of anticipatory bail and though, the power of granting anticipatory bail is not ordinary, at the same time, its use is not confined to exceptional cases.

“… it would not be appropriate to remove the protective order which is continuing for more than three years as of now in favor of the applicants herein. Further, it has not been brought to the notice of this court that the applicants at any time point of time in past have misused the liberty so granted. … Further, the ‘check period’ is of considerable length in the instant case”, the Court held.

The Court, therefore, directed the applicants to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 2,00,000/- each.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the pleas and granted anticipatory bail to the applicants.

Cause Title- Aman Kumar Singh v. State of Chhattisgarh

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