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State of Bihar v. Rajballav Prasad Yadav - (Supreme Court) (24 Nov 2016)

Public interest of fair trial outweigh personal interest, when there is possibility of interdicting fair trial by accused if released on bail



High Court granted bail to Respondent during pendency of trial against Respondent facing charges under Sections 376, 420/34, 366-A, 370, 370-A, 212, 120-B of Indian Penal Code,1860 as well as charges under Sections 4, 6 and 8 of POCSO Act, 2012. He was also facing trial for offences under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956. Case was pending in Court of Additional Sessions Judge. State was aggrieved by impugned order of High Court granting bail to Respondent and has challenged this order in present proceedings.

When FIR was registered against Respondent and on basis of investigation, he was sought to be arrested, Respondent had avoided said arrest, so much so, prosecution was compelled to file an application under Section 82 of Cr.P.C. before trial court and trial court even initiated process under Section 83 of Cr.P.C. At that stage only, Respondent surrendered before trial court and was arrested. Respondent's application was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge. While passing this order of rejection, trial court was persuaded by submission of Prosecutor that direct as well as specific allegations had been levelled against Respondent of committing rape upon the victim minor girl and he was identified by victim during course of investigation while he was walking in P.O. house. It was also noted that, prayer for bail of co-accused had already been rejected and case of Respondent was on graver footing and also that, Respondent had a long criminal diary, as would be evident from the Case Diary produced before the Court. When order had already been passed to fast-track the trial, and the application for bail by co-accused was also rejected, the High Court, while considering bail application of Respondent, was supposed to take into consideration this material fact as well.

Respondent is only an under-trial and his liberty is also a relevant consideration. However, equally important consideration is interest of society and fair trail of case. Courts have to adopt a liberal approach while considering bail applications of accused persons. However, in a given case, if it is found that, there is a possibility of interdicting fair trial by accused if released on bail, this public interest of fair trial would outweigh personal interest of accused while undertaking task of balancing liberty of accused on one hand and interest of society to have a fair trial on other hand. When witnesses are not able to depose correctly in Court of law, it results in low rate of conviction and many times even hardened criminals escape the conviction. It shakes public confidence in criminal justice delivery system. It is this need for larger public interest to ensure that criminal justice delivery system works efficiently, smoothly and in a fair manner that has to be given prime importance in such situations.

Prosecutrix has already been examined. However, few other material witnesses, including father and sister of the prosecutrix, have yet to be examined. As per records, threats were extended to prosecutrix as well as her family members. Therefore, High Court should not have granted bail to Respondent ignoring all material and substantial aspects, which were the relevant considerations. Supreme Court allowed the appeal by setting aside order of High Court.

Relevant : Masroor v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.


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