The Supreme Court has taken a serious view of high courts exercising their "inherent powers" in granting bails to accused persons who try to "win over witnessess by using their muscle and money power."
A bench of Justices GP Mathur and AK Mathur maintained that an accused cannot directly approach the high courts for obtaining a bail as they should first approach the trial court for relief.
"The dockets of the high courts are full and there is long pendency of murder appeals in the high courts from which this case has arisen. Ends of justices would be better served if valuable time of the court is spent in hearing those appeals," the apex court said while cancelling the bail granted by the Allahabad High Court to certain murder accused persons.
Accused Rashid and others were charged with assaulting the complainant Hamida's husband Balla with lethal weapons on June 13, 2005 in Muzzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh.
The local Kotwali police registered cases under IPC sections 324 (causing hurt), 352 (using criminal force) and 506 (criminal intimidation), though Hamida complained that the accused should be booked under Section 307 IPC (attempt to murder).
The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) granted bail to the accused as they were bailable offences but made it clear that if the case was converted into a more serious offence, the accused would not get any benefit of the bail being granted to them.
Balla subsequently succumbed to the injuries and the case was converted into Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) by police.
Instead of approaching the CJM, the accused persons moved the Allahabad High Court which exercising its inherent powers under Section 482 CrPC said that the accused would continue to be on bail even though the case was converted into 304 IPC.
Hamida moved the apex court challenging the grant of bail on the ground that it was gross abuse of the judicial process by the accused.
Agreeing with the complainant, the apex court said under Section 439 of the CrPC, an accused should initially approach only the appropriate court (trial court) for grant of bail.
"They deliberately did not do so and filed a petition under Section 482 CrPC in order to cirumvent the procedure whereunder they would have been required to surrender as the bail application could be entertained and heard only if the accused were in custody," the apex court said.
The apex court regretted that the accused persons did not remain in custody even for a single day nor did they approach the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate or Sessions Judge for being granted bail under Section 304 or 302 IPC after the victim succumbed to the injuries.
"Ends of justice would be better served if valuable time of the court is spent in hearing those appeals rather than entertaining petitions under Section 482 CrPC at an interlocutory stage, which are often filed with some oblique motive in order to circumvent the prescribed procedure as is the case here, or to delay the trial which will enable the accused to win over the witnesses by money or muscle power or they may become disinterested in giving evidence, ultimately resulting in miscarriage of justice," the apex court observed.
Hence the bench directed forthwith cancellation of the bail granted to the accused with a liberty to approach the trial court for a fresh bail.