Few acquittals don’t wipe away criminal’s past: HC

Few acquittals don’t wipe away criminal’s past: HC

Photo for representation only. File photo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 21

In a significant ruling liable to change the way bail pleas of accused in criminal cases are dealt with, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that acquittal in some cases does not mean that the “shady criminal past of a criminal gets washed away”.

The assertion came in response to a contention that an accused, allegedly involved in several criminal cases, had been acquitted in three matters. Justice HS Madaan asserted the petitioner was said to be a habitual criminal. According to the counsel, the petitioner had been acquitted in three matters. But it did not mean that he had been given a clean chit.

‘Petitioner a habitual criminal’

  • The assertion came in response to a contention that an accused, allegedly involved in several criminal cases, had been acquitted in three matters.
  • Justice HS Madaan asserted the petitioner was said to be a habitual criminal.
  • According to the counsel, the petitioner had been acquitted in three matters. But it did not mean that he had been given a clean chit.

Justice Madaan added that the prosecution was required to prove its charge against the accused beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt as per criminal jurisprudence applicable to our judicial system. But many a times, criminals, including ones indulging in heinous crime, managed to go scot free for technical reasons following faulty investigation in some cases as the investigating agency failed to collect proper evidence to connect the accused with the offence.

Several times, influential and hardened criminals managed to influence vital prosecution witnesses. They turned hostile during the trial and did not support the prosecution story. Resultantly, the criminal escaped conviction.

The accused in the case was seeking pre-arrest bail in an FIR registered on May 29 for wrongful restraint, criminal intimidation and other offences under Sections 341, 386, 506 and 34 of the IPC at Model Town police station in Panipat.

Taking up the matter, Justice Madaan said pre-arrest bail was a discretionary equitable relief to be granted in “very exceptional cases” and not in routine. The provision was meant to protect the innocent from harassment and inconvenience. It was not a shield for the criminals to enable them to avoid interrogation by the investigating agency.

The petitioner was involved in cases of heinous crime like murder, snatching, attempt to murder, dacoity and was found in possession of illegal weapons etc. Regular bail in some of the cases did not show his innocence in those matters. Dismissing the plea, the Bench asserted, “Such a criminal is certainly not entitled to discretionary equitable relief of pre-arrest bail.”

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