Chandigarh, September 22
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that neither an accused is entitled to seek regular bail, nor is the trial court entitled to release her on it, knowing that the pre-arrest bail plea is pending in the high court.
The assertion came as Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi of the High Court directed the forwarding of a Supreme Court judgment in this regard, along with his order, specifically to the Magistrate concerned, besides its circulation to all District and Sessions Judges in the States of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh “for strict compliance”.
The matter was brought to Justice Bedi’s notice after an accused sought anticipatory bail in an FIR registered on December 8, 2020, for cheating and other offences under Sections 395, 420, 120-B of the IPC at the Sector 5 police station in Panchkula.
Issuing notice of motion on her plea, the High Court, in August 2021, directed the petitioner’s release on interim bail, subject to her furnishing personal bonds and surety bonds to the satisfaction of arresting /investigating officer in the event of arrest.
The petitioner was also directed to join investigation as and when called upon and cooperate with the investigating officer. The order continued over a period of time. The petitioner appeared before the Court of Panchkula Judicial Magistrate (First Class) on April 12, 2022, in pursuance to a court notice.
Justice Bedi observed a perusal of the order granting regular bail passed by the Judicial Magistrate showed that it was in violation of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of “Rukmani Mahto versus State of Jharkhand”.
The Supreme Court judgment, referred to, emphasised there was no occasion for the accused to appear and seek regular bail before the lower court when a higher court had granted interim anticipatory bail and the matter was pending. Such a practice was considered an abuse of the legal process.
Justice Bedi’s order made it clear that the petitioner was not entitled to apply for regular bail while her petition for pre-arrest bail was pending in the High Court. Consequently, the petition for anticipatory bail was dismissed, and the order for regular bail, dated April 12, 2022, passed by the Judicial Magistrate was recalled.
Justice Bedi also directed the petitioner to surrender before the trial court within 15 days. Failure to do so would result in the investigating agency taking her into custody, after which she could apply for regular bail in accordance with the law.
The judgment is significant as it underscores the significance of adhering to legal procedures in bail proceedings and discourages the practice of seeking regular bail after obtaining interim anticipatory bail from a higher court.
Orders strict compliance
The assertion came as Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi directed forwarding of an SC judgment in this regard, along with his order, specifically to the Magistrate concerned, besides its circulation to all Dist and Sessions Judges of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh “for strict compliance”.
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