The Delhi High Court while granting bail to the accused in a kidnapping case has held that the imprisonment cannot be prolonged only for the purpose of teaching a lesson to the accused at the stage of the trial.

A Single Bench of Justice Vikas Mahajan observed, “In the present case, the charge sheet has already been filed and no recovery is required to be made from the petitioner who is in custody since 04.09.2020, which is almost two years and nine months. … The examination-in-chief of the victim has already been recorded. There are 23 witnesses cited by the prosecution and it will take long time to conclude the trial. At the stage of the trial, imprisonment cannot be prolonged only for the purpose of teaching the accused a lesson.”

The Bench said that the case of the prosecution and the defense of the accused persons is yet to be tested at trial.

Advocate Aditya Singh appeared on behalf of the petitioner i.e., the accused while APP Amit Sahni appeared on behalf of the respondent i.e., the State.

Factual Background -

A bail plea seeking regular bail in the FIR under Sections 364A/365/342/323/506/102B/34 of the IPC was preferred by the accused. The case of the prosecution was that the mother of the victim made a complaint to the police that the victim, her daughter, aged about 24 years went to a bank with her ATM, passbook, and cheque book but did not return home and despite searching for her, she could not be found. She suspected that some unknown person has kidnapped her daughter by luring her.

Subsequently, the father of the victim went to the Police Station and stated that his daughter was kidnapped for ransom and the kidnapper demanded Rs. 40 lakhs and threatened to kill his daughter, in case the demand was not fulfilled. The search was made for the victim with the help of location and CDR of her mobile number and she was then recovered from the custody of accused persons namely, Simpal Srivastav and her boyfriend Shah Alam (petitioner) as a result of which they were arrested.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “It is trite that the seriousness of an offence is not the only criteria for denial of bail. A person who has not been convicted should only be kept in custody, if there is a possibility that he or she might abscond or tamper with evidence or threaten the witness. Merely because the offence is of a serious nature, cannot be the ground to curtail the personal liberty of an under trial for an indefinite period.”

The Court further noted that if the punishment prescribed is for imprisonment for life and the death penalty and the offence is exclusively triable by the Court of Session, the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to grant bail unless the case is covered by the provisos attached to Section 437 of Cr.PC. and that there are no such limitations circumscribing the jurisdiction of the High Court or the Court of Session while exercising the powers under Section 439 of Cr.PC.

“It is not the case of the prosecution that any injury was caused by the accused persons to the victim. Even the MLC of the victim records that “no fresh external injuries seen through naked eye examination” … At this stage, without going into the merits of the case, this court is of the opinion that regard being had to the above discussion, the petitioner has made out a case for the grant of bail”, said the Court.

The Court, therefore, directed the accused to furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs. 20,000/- with one surety bond of the like amount subject to the satisfaction of the Trial Court/CMM/Duty Magistrate.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the bail plea.

Cause Title- Shah Alam v. State Govt of NCT of Delhi (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:4120)

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