The Kerala High Court dismissed bail plea of the prime accused in the 2017 actress assault case and observed that when there were serious allegations against an accused which affected the conscience of the society, bail could not be granted solely on the ground of personal liberty even though the accused had been in jail for about six years.

The Bench of Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed that “There cannot be any straight jacket rule to decide the reasonable time necessary to conclude a trial. Each case is to be decided based on the volume of evidence proposed to be adduced by the prosecution and defense.”

Further, the Bench after hearing the application on merits observed that “It is a well-accepted principle that in an order passed in a bail application, there can be only reasons to reject or allow the bail application and there cannot be any finding or even prima facie finding based on the evidence adduced by the prosecution. The findings in the bail order by the superior court may influence the Trial Court while deciding the case finally. Such findings in bail order may also prejudice the prosecution and defence.”

Advocate V.V. Pratheeksh Kurup appeared for the petitioner and Senior Government Pleader P. Narayanan, Additional Public Prosecutor Sajju S. appeared for the respondent-State.

In this case, the petitioner, also known as Pulsar Suni, is an accused in the 2017 actress assault case. The allegation is that the petitioner along with other accused in furtherance of criminal conspiracy by a movie star abducted and brutally sexually harassed the victim in a moving car. FIR was registered under Sections 120B, 109, 342, 366, 354, 354B, 357, 376D, 201, 212 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 66E and 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The petitioner had been in judicial custody for the last six years. The petitioner’s earlier bail application was dismissed by the High Court. This order of the High Court was challenged by the petitioner before the Apex Court which was also dismissed with an observation that if the trial was not concluded within a reasonable time, the petitioner was at liberty to renew his bail application pending trial before the High Court.

The issue for consideration was whether the period of long undertrial detention alone was a ground to grant bail to an accused.

The Court noted that to ensure that the trial was conducted expeditiously by the Trial Court, the Apex Court was monitoring the case regularly and the Trial Court had also been submitting the report about the progress of the case regularly. Moreover, the Apex Court accepted these reports and had extended the time to dispose of the case with a direction to expedite the trial.

Further, the Court, while hearing the appeal on merits noted that the prosecution case was very serious, and the gravity of the offence alleged against the accused was also to be considered while deciding the bail application. Moreover, the Sessions Judge in its report had stated that more than 200 witnesses were already examined and that six more months was necessary for the completion of the trial.

Therefore, the Court said that there was no unreasonable delay in concluding the trial and accordingly, the Bail application was dismissed.

Cause Title- Sunil N. S. v. State of Kerala

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