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What is the case

  • The Supreme Court recently held, in a decision written by Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, that parties' agreement does not absolve the High Court of its responsibility to explain why it granted or denied bail.
  • The bench stated that granting bail does not absolve the court of its responsibility to apply a judicial mind and to record reasons, however brief, for determining whether or not to grant bail.
  • The court made this observation while overturning the High Court of Gujarat's orders granting bail to six murder suspects who were arrested for their suspected involvement in five homicides under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • 'Learned Advocates appearing on behalf of the respective parties do not ask for more reasoned order,' the High Court said in the order granting bail.

Brief of the case

  • The group of five appeals stemmed from orders of the Gujarat High Court granting bail to six people accused of five homicides under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • Sections 302, 143, 144, 147, 148, 149, 341, 384, 120B, 506(2), and 34 of the IPC, Sections 25(1-b) A, 27, and 29 of the Arms Act, and Section 135 of the Gujarat Police Act were cited in the FIR.
  • The informant was the claimant, and the FIR was filed at 19:30 hours based on his statement for an incident that occurred at 13:00 hours. A land dispute sparked the incident in Hamirpur, which resulted in the commission of five murders.
  • The informant said that he and his brother got up at 6:00 a.m. and went to their farm. The informant and his brother-in-law were driving home with five other people in a Scorpio vehicle at 1 p.m. When the vehicle arrived at the farm's unpaved lane, two people came out and slammed their tractor into the front portion of the Scorpio vehicle.
  • He parked his tractor on the Scorpio's rear side, behind which another Sumo vehicle had arrived. The Scorpio and its passengers were stranded. As informant 1 and others tried to flee the scene, he witnessed a homicidal incident that claimed the lives of five people.
  • Around fifteen years ago, some agricultural land was sold and given to another individual for cultivation, and he refused to give the informant the fields for cultivation, resulting in a quarrel.

Order of the court

  • The apex court stated that parties' agreement does not absolve the high court of its responsibility to explain why it granted or denied bail because the result of the application has a direct impact on the accused's liberty on the one side and the public interest in the proper administration of criminal justice on the other.
  • 'Learned Advocates appearing on behalf of the respective parties do not ask for more reasoned order,' the High Court said in the order granting bail. The bench, in disapproval of this strategy, stated:
  • "The grant of bail under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code is a matter requiring judicial discretion. The judicial power in granting or denying bail is structured, much as any other discretion vested in a court as a judicial institution. The need to record reasons is an important protection that ensures the court's discretion is used wisely.
  • The inclusion of reasons in a judicial order guarantees that the reasoning process that underpins the order is scrutinized and follows objective principles of fairness and reason. In a similar view, this Court held in Chaman Lal v. the State of U.P. that "a High Court order that does not contain reasons for prima facie concluding that a bail should be issued is liable to be set aside for lack of application of mind."
  • The bench also remarked on the high court's application of the principle of parity in granting bail to some of the accused.
  • “When granting bail, parity must be focused on the part of the accused. It stated that "merely noticing that another accused who was granted bail was armed with a similar weapon is insufficient to decide whether a case for bail on parity has been made."
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