The Bombay High Court observed that mere delay in the trial pertaining to grave offences, by itself cannot be a ground to enlarge an accused on bail.

The Court observed thus in a criminal appeal preferred by an accused under Section 21 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (NIA Act) seeking his enlargement on bail.

A Division Bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Manjusha Deshpande said, “Thus, it is evident that mere delay in the trial pertaining to grave offences, by itself cannot be a ground to enlarge an accused on bail, dehors the facts. We cannot be oblivious of the fact that 15 police personnel were killed in a mine blast, which took place on 1st May 2019. We have already noted above and recorded a finding that the material on record as pointed out by the prosecution prima facie indicates the complicity of the appellant as part of the conspiracy.”

Advocate Shyam Dewani represented the appellant while Special PP Aruna S. Pai represented the respondents.

Factual Background -

The appellant was the accused for the alleged offences punishable under Sections 302, 353, 143, 147, 148, 149, 120B, and 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 5 read with 28 of the Arms Act, 1959, Sections 4 and 5 of the Indian Explosives Act, 1884, Section 135 of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, and Sections 16, 18, 20 and 23 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA).

Subsequently, the investigation in the said case was transferred to National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the NIA subsequently added few more provisions of the UAPA as well as provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOC Act).

The High Court in the above context noted, “No doubt, charge has not been framed till date, primarily because of the statement made by the learned Special P.P. before this Court, in a Criminal Appeal filed by co-accused–Satyanarayana Rani seeking his discharge from the said case, that the prosecution will not proceed with the case till the next date. We are informed by the learned Special P.P. that even the bail granted to Satyanarayana Rani, by this Court has been challenged by the prosecution before the Apex Court and that the same is listed for hearing, this week.”

Furthermore, the Court said that the statements on record show that the appellant was in touch with the ‘naxals’ and that he would visit the jungle and had informed the co-accused of the passing of the police vehicle on the fateful day and thus, he had knowingly facilitated the commission of a terrorist act.

“Considering the aforesaid, mere delay in the peculiar facts of this case, dehors merit, cannot be a ground for enlarging the appellant on bail. … We make it clear that it is open for the learned Judge to proceed with the case qua the appellant and the other accused. Accordingly, the learned Judge to proceed to frame charge against the accused and thereafter, conclude the trial, as expeditiously as possible”, it ordered.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title- Kailash S/o Premchand Ramchandani v. State of Maharashtra & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:BHC-AS:15800-DB)


Appellant: Advocates Shyam Dewani, Sachet Makhija, and Samiksha Parekh.

Respondents: Special PP Aruna S. Pai, PP Shrikant Sonkawade, and Advocate P.P. Shinde.

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