The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna while reversing the High Court's order of granting bail to the accused has held that High Court did not consider the parameters to be considered while releasing the accused on bail while he was charged with serious offences of murder and hatching a conspiracy to kill his wife.

"While releasing respondent no.2 on bail, the High Court has not at all considered the parameters to be considered while releasing the accused on bail and that too in a serious offence of murder and hatching conspiracy to kill his wife. The impugned order passed by the High Court releasing respondent no.2 cannot be sustained and the same deserves to be quashed and set aside," the Court observed.

Advocate Mr. Pradhuman Gohil appeared for the Appellant, Advocate Ms. Archana Pathak Dave appeared for the State of Gujarat, and Advocate Ms. Neelam Singh appeared for Respondent No. 2 - Accused before the Apex Court.

An appeal was preferred by the father of the deceased assailing the judgment of the Gujarat High Court which had granted bail to the Respondent - Accused who was charged under Sections 320, 120(B), 114, 304A of the IPC and Sections 177, 184 & 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act,

In this case, the Respondent -Accused was charged with hatching a criminal conspiracy with other co-accused and killing his wife for monetary benefits.

The Sessions Court had rejected the Respondent's application for bail, while the High Court had allowed the bail application and released the Respondent on bail.

It was argued by the Appellant that the High Court while granting bail did not assign any reason except that it was a case of circumstantial evidence which could be said to be a weak piece of evidence.

Further, it was contended that there was ample material available collected during the investigation to complete the chain of events that led to the death of the accused's wife.

The state of Gujarat supported the contentions of the Appellant.

The Apex Court noted that the High Court did not advert to the material collected during the course of the investigation, in this context, the Court observed -

"The High Court has not at all considered the material/evidence collected during the course of the investigation even prima facie and has directed to release respondent no.2 in such a serious offence of hatching conspiracy to kill his wife, by simply observing that as it is a case of circumstantial evidence, which is a weak piece of evidence, it is not legal and proper to deny bail to respondent no.2."

"Merely because the prosecution case rests on circumstantial evidence cannot be a ground to release the accused on bail, if during the course of the investigation the evidence/material has been collected and prima facie the complete chain of events is established," the Bench opined.

Further, the Court noted, "One another reason given by the High Court to release respondent no.2 on bail is that the accused has deep root in the society and no apprehension as to flee away or escape trial or tampering with the evidence/witnesses is expressed. In a case of committing the offence under Section 302 read with 120B IPC and in a case of hatching conspiracy to kill his wife and looking to the seriousness of the offence, the aforesaid can hardly be a ground to release the accused on bail."

While relying on the judgment of Anil Kumar Yadav vs. State (NCT of Delhi) – (2018) 12 SCC 129, the Court noted, it is observed and held by this Court that while granting bail, the relevant considerations are, (i) nature of seriousness of the offence; (ii) character of the evidence and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused; and (iii) likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice; (iv) the impact that his release may make on the prosecution witnesses, its impact on the society; and (v) likelihood of his tampering.

The Court further placed reliance on Ramesh Bhavan Rathod v. Vishanbhai Hirabhai Makwana (Koli) and others, reported in (2021) 6 SCC 630 and observed -

"Though it is a well settled principle that in determining as to whether bail should be granted, the High Court, or for that matter, the Sessions Court deciding an application under Section 439 Cr.P.C. would not launch upon a detailed evaluation of the facts on merits since a criminal trial is still to take place."

"It is observed that the outcome of the application has a significant bearing on the liberty of the accused on one hand as well as the public interest in the due enforcement of criminal justice on the other and the rights of the victims and their families are at stake as well and therefore while granting bail, the Court has to apply a judicial mind and record brief reasons for the purpose of deciding whether or not to grant bail.," the Bench opined.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order of the High Court with a direction for Respondent No. 2 to surrender before the Court/Jail authorities.

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