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Manoranjana Sinh v. Central Bureau of Investigation - (Supreme Court) (06 Feb 2017)

Detention in custody of under-trial prisoners for an indefinite period would amount to violation of Article 21 of Constitution



Appellant, a charge-sheeted Accused in judicial custody in connection with the infamous "Chit Fund Scam" involving the Saradha Group of Companies ("Saradha Group") has impeached rejection of her prayer for bail by judgment and order impugned and seeks her release pending further investigation by tentral Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into said Ponzi scheme.

Recorded facts demonstrate admittedly that, Appellant is continuously in judicial custody since 7th October, 2015 and that supplementary charge-sheet against her along with others as mentioned therein, had been filed on 04th January, 2016 incorporating evidence collected against those incriminated. Having regard to the magnitude and canvass of the investigation, it is likely that exercise would take further time. Though according to the CBI, ailments of Appellant are not worth any weight as a factor to grant her the privilege of bail, the medical records nevertheless suggest that she is suffering from a variety of ailments. Noticeably, medical records have been issued by hospitals in which she is undertaking treatment. Though it is the plea of Respondent that, Appellant at times adopts a disposition to avoid interrogation by CBI, no convincing material has been brought on record to demonstrate any misuse of her liberty qua the investigation while in the hospitals since her arrest. As per medical records, her ailments range from ischemic heart disease to asthma, unstable angina, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, constant nausea and lower back pain.

This Court in Sanjay Chandra v. Central Bureau of Investigation, also involving an economic offence of formidable magnitude, while dealing with the issue of grant of bail, had observed that deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment unless it is required to ensure that an Accused person would stand his trial when called upon and that the courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and found guilty. Since, jurisdiction to grant bail to an Accused pending trial or in appeal against conviction is discretionary in nature, it has to be exercised with care and caution by balancing the valuable right of liberty of an individual and the interest of the society in general. It was elucidated that the seriousness of the charge, is no doubt one of the relevant considerations while examining the application of bail but it was not only the test or the factor and that grant or denial of such privilege, is regulated to a large extent by the facts and circumstances of each particular case. That detention in custody of under-trial prisoners for an indefinite period would amount to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution was highlighted. In factual premise and on an in-depth balancing of all relevant aspects and chiefly competitive imperatives of investigation and right to liberty, Supreme Court disposed the petition, granting bail to Appellant, subject to conditions.

Relevant : Sanjay Chandra v. Central Bureau of Investigation  MANU/SC/1375/2011: (2012) 1 SCC 40


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