The Supreme Court has reiterated that the subsequent addition of a serious offence to the FIR can be a circumstance where the Court could cancel the bail already granted by it and further has set aside the bail granted to a man by the Bombay High Court in a ‘casting couch’ case.

The Bench of Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli observed that “addition of a serious offence can be a circumstance where a Court can direct that the accused be arrested and committed to custody even though an order of bail was earlier granted in his favour in respect of the offences with which he was charged when his application for bail was considered and a favourable order was passed.”

Senior Advocate R. Basant appeared for the appellant and Senior Advocate Sanjay R. Hegde appeared for the respondent.

In this case, the appeal was preferred by victim, a model by profession, who had claimed to have been exposed to the horrors of the notorious casting couch syndrome and had alleged that the accused, a businessman, raped her after luring her under garb of offering her modelling assignments. Initially the FIR was registered under Sections 354, 354-B and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the accused was granted bail by the Magistrate.

Later, a complaint was filed before the Deputy Commissioner of Police, by the victim, wherein she stated that the investigation was being conducted in a casual manner. Thereafter, the victim was called for recording her further statement and the offence of Section 376 IPC was added in the FIR. The accused’s bail was cancelled by the Magistrate.

The accused moved the Sessions Court for anticipatory bail which was rejected. But he got anticipatory bail from the Bombay High Court. Aggrieved by the same, the victim approached the Apex Court.

The Apex Court relied upon the decision of Apex Court in Pradeep Ram v. State of Jharkhand And Another (2019) 17 SCC 326 and observed that addition of a serious offence could be a circumstance where a Court could direct that the accused be arrested and committed to custody even though an order of bail was earlier granted.

“The recourse available to an accused in a situation where after grant of bail, further cognizable and non-bailable offences are added to the FIR, is for him to surrender and apply afresh for bail in respect of the newly added offences. The investigating agency is also entitled to move the Court for seeking the custody of the accused by invoking the provisions of 437(5)33 and 439(2)34 Cr.P.C., falling under Chapter XXXIIII of the Statute that deals with provisions relating to bails and bonds.” further the Apex Court observed.

The Apex Court said that the High Court filed to consider the gravity and seriousness of the allegations and financial stature and positions of the accused vis-a-vis the victim.

Further, it noted that even after the victim had filed an application for intervention in the petition for anticipatory bail, the victim was not afforded a hearing and said that “No doubt, the State was present and was represented in the said proceedings, but the right of the prosecutrix could not have been whittled down for this reason alone. In a crime of this nature where ordinarily, there is no other witness except for the prosecutrix herself, it was all the more incumbent for the High Court to have lent its ear to the appellant.”

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.

Cause Title- Ms X v. State of Maharashtra

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