By- Akshay Gurnani
The High Court added that when the lower courts do not intervene in such matters, litigants “are unnecessarily forced to approach the High Court on account of lack of exercise of jurisdiction, even in valid cases.”
The Punjab and Haryana High Court was recently prompted to urge lower courts to be more sensitive to the accused in cases of “blatant detention” (Mandeep Singh @ Lavi v. State of Haryana). The denial of bail to a man jailed for almost 6 months in connection with an FIR that did not mention his name led Justice GS Sandhawalia to remark, “It is hoped that in such blatant detention matters also the Sessions Court would be more sensitive to the accused who approach the District Judiciary for their freedom and who are unnecessarily forced to approach the High Court on account of lack of exercise of jurisdiction, even in valid cases, which is coming to the notice of this Court time and again.”
The case concerned charges of conspiracy and attempt to murder. The complainant did not name anyone who he personally saw committing the offences. Rather, the order recounted that bullet marks were found the day after the alleged attack. Three persons were named in the FIR as suspects.
The bail petitioner, though unnamed in the FIR, was arrested on the basis of disclosure statements recorded by the investigating police officer. He had remained in police custody since December 12, last year.
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In this factual backdrop, the High Court expressed its surprise that the Additional Sessions Judge declined the grant of bail in May this year, stating that the allegations levelled against the petitioner had to be examined in trial and that the petitioner may hamper evidence if released. The High Court, however, disagreed, observing that, “the reasons given by the Additional Sessions Judge are not justified in the facts and circumstances.”
Justice Sandhawalla added, “The Court has failed to take into consideration that the petitioner has been detained as such on a disclosure statement which may not stand the scrutiny in the Court of law. Apparently prima facie the investigating officer has overstepped his jurisdiction in his keenness to solve the crime as such which was not appreciated by the Additional Sessions Judge.”
Therefore, the High Court proceeded to allow the bail plea, while clarifying that it has not made any observations on the merits of the case for the purpose of trial.