The Supreme Court while directing men to surrender in double murder case, emphasised that the bail order must reveal factors being considered by the court for granting relief to the accused.

The Court was deciding a batch of appeals preferred against four different orders of the Allahabad High Court in applications moved by the accused persons seeking bail.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah observed, “The considerations that weigh with the appellate Court for setting aside the bail order on an application being moved by the aggrieved party include any supervening circumstances that may have occurred after granting relief to the accused, the conduct of the accused while on bail, any attempt on the part of the accused to procrastinate, resulting in delaying the trial, any instance of threats being extended to the witnesses while on bail, any attempt on the part of the accused to tamper with the evidence in any manner. We may add that this list is only illustrative and not exhaustive. However, the court must be cautious that at the stage of granting bail, only a prima facie case needs to be examined and detailed reasons relating to the merits of the case that may cause prejudice to the accused, ought to be avoided. Suffice it is to state that the bail order should reveal the factors that have been considered by the Court for granting relief to the accused.”

Advocates Shreeyash U. Lalit and Ansar Ahmad Chaudhary appeared for the appellant while Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra and Advocate Sitab Ali Chaudhary appeared for the respondents.

In this case, crime was registered against the respondents (accused) for the offences punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149, 302, 307, 352, and 504 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The incident was of the year 2020 when the appellant (complainant), his two sons with some other persons were sitting in the ‘baithak’ of his house for breaking the fast (Roza Iftar) and preparing to offer prayers. The accused persons (ten in number) arrived at the spot and indiscriminately fired at the appellant and his two sons. Both his sons died on the spot and his nephew was seriously injured. It was alleged that there was previous enmity between the parties due to which the accused persons had attacked him and his sons.

Pertinently, father of one of the accused persons was not named in the FIR and his role in the incident came up during the police investigation and based on that, his name was added as a co-accused. On completion of investigation, a chargesheet was submitted against eight accused and one of them was enlarged on bail by the High Court vide an order, which order was set aside by the Apex Court in a criminal appeal filed by the complainant. Three other accused were not found to be involved in the offence and hence, no chargesheet was filed against them. The applications of the respondents were allowed by different Benches of the High Court and being aggrieved by this, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court after hearing the arguments of parties remarked, “In our opinion, the High Court has completely lost sight of the principles that conventionally govern a Court’s discretion at the time of deciding whether bail ought to be granted or not. The High Court has ignored the fact that the appellant-complainant has stuck to his version as recorded in the FIR and that even after entering the witness-box, the appellant-complainant and three eyewitnesses have specified the roles of the accused-respondents in the entire incident.”

The Court added that the High Court has also overlooked the fact that the respondents have previous criminal history details whereof have been furnished by the counsel for the State of U.P.

“It is worthwhile to note that the accused Nazim was granted bail in FIR No. 214 of 2016 on 10th January, 2017 and while on bail, he is alleged to have committed a double murder of the two sons of the appellant-complainant. … To top it all, while on bail, there have been allegations that three of the accused-respondents herein have threatened one of the key eye-witnesses, Abdullah (PW-2) in open Court, thrashed him and threatened to kill him in the Court premises. On his approaching the trial Court for police protection, appropriate orders were passed in his favour and an FIR got registered46. Though the police had filed a closure report, dissatisfied with the same, the Magistrate has directed further investigation. The attempt to delay the trial on the part of the respondents has also surfaced from the records”, it noted.

Furthermore, the Court said that the High Court overlooked the period of custody of the respondents for such a grave offence alleged to have been committed by them as they remained in custody for less than three years for such a serious offence of a double murder for which they have been charged.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court disposed of the appeals, quashed the impugned orders, and directed the respondents to surrender within two weeks.

Cause Title- Ajwar v. Waseem and Another (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 438)

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