The Delhi High Court has granted bail to a man accused of murder after accepting his argument that there was a suicide pact via which his lover shot herself dead. The Court held that witness testimonies and other evidence can be looked into while considering bail application for limited purpose, though their probative and evidentiary value will be seen by trial court at appropriate stage.

The aforesaid man had filed a petition under Section 439 of the CrPC seeking regular bail in an FIR registered under Section 302 of the IPC read with Sections 25, 27, 54, and 59 of the Arms Act, 1959.

A Single Bench of Justice Vikas Mahajan held, “It is trite that detailed and elaborate appreciation of evidence cannot be undertaken at the stage of considering a bail application. However, for the limited purpose of seeing whether there exists a prima facie case in favour of the accused warranting grant of bail, the evidence can be looked into for indicating reasons therefor. … Though probative and the evidentiary value of the testimonies and other evidence will be seen by the learned Trial Court at an appropriate stage, however, at this juncture while considering the petitioner’s application for bail, the possibility of the petitioner and the deceased being involved in a consensual romantic relationship and the deceased partaking in a suicide pact with petitioner and shooting herself, cannot be discounted.”

The Bench noted that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and other evidence, which have been referred to only for limited purpose of deciding the bail application, tilts the balance in favour of granting bail to the petitioner/accused.

Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur appeared on behalf of the petitioner/accused while APP Richa Dhawan appeared on behalf of the respondent/State.

Facts of the Case -

In 2016, information was received that the accused (petitioner) had informed that he was going to commit suicide and a lady who was also with him had shot herself. The said information was recorded and was entrusted for investigation. On reaching Hindu College, one Ford Eco Sport car was found and on the driver seat, one person was found sitting while on co-driver/passenger seat, a lady was lying who was found to be dead. On enquiry, the person sitting on the driver seat disclosed his name as Naveen Uppal @ Sunny (petitioner/accused herein) and he informed the name of the lady as Anjali Devi.

The body of the aforesaid lady was sent to hospital, where she was declared as brought dead. During enquiry, it was revealed that the accused and the deceased were in a relationship for the last several years. The deceased was married and had children, whereas, the accused was married to another lady. It was the case of the prosecution that the accused told the deceased to leave him and when the deceased refused, the accused shot the deceased. With the aforesaid allegations, an FIR was registered and the accused was arrested.

The High Court in the above regard observed, “It thus, appears that the petitioner and the deceased were in a cordial relationship and families of the petitioner and the deceased were known to one another. In this view of the matter, the possibility of the petitioner and the deceased being involved in a consensual romantic relationship cannot be ruled out, at this stage. Notably, the defense of the petitioner from the very inception has been that petitioner and the deceased were in a love relationship and they had entered into a suicide pact as petitioner’s parents got him married to some other woman against his wishes.”

The Court noted that it is not the case of the prosecution that the petitioner has jumped the interim bail granted to him on different occasions as well as the interim bail granted as per the guidelines issued by the High-Powered Committee and even otherwise, the petitioner is a permanent resident of Delhi, thus, there is no reason to believe that he will flee from administration of justice in case enlarged on bail.

“Even the apprehension of the learned APP that the petitioner may influence material witnesses cannot be sustained, in as much as, all public witnesses stand examined. … it cannot be overlooked that the prosecution has cited as many as 64 witnesses, out of which only 24 witnesses have been examined in the last 7 years. Needless to say, that it is going to be a protracted trial. In the given circumstances, no useful purpose will be served in keeping the petitioner behind bars”, said the Court.

The Court added that it would indeed be a travesty of justice to keep the petitioner in jail for an indefinite period for an offence which may ultimately be found not to have been committed by him, especially when there is material on record which has the prospect of probabilizing the defence of the petitioner.

Accordingly, the High Court granted bail to the accused subject to furnishing a personal bond of Rs. 50,000/-.

Cause Title- Naveen Uppal @ Sunny v. State (NCT of Delhi) (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:8309)

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