In the case of Sonu v. Sonu Yadav and Another, the Supreme Court clarified that the quality of reasons matters the most while setting aside the bail granted to the accused by the Allahabad High Court. The instant case pertains to dowry death.
The Supreme Court was approached to by one Sonu challenging the decision of the Allahabad High Court to have granted bail to the accused Sonu Yadav who was accused of offences related to dowry death.
The Allahabad High Court had granted the bail to the accused on observing “Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, submissions of learned counsel for the parties and keeping in view the nature of offence, evidence, complicity of accused and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court is of the view that the applicant has made out a case for bail. The bail application is allowed.”
The brother of the deceased in what is being considered as a dowry death, pending judgement had registered a First Information Report (FIR) on the 9th of February, 2019, at a Police Station at the District of Etawah for offences under Sections 498-A and 304-B of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1861.
The marriage ceremony between the sister of the appellant and the accused had solemnized on the 5th of July 2018, when a cash amount of Rs 15 lakhs, a motor vehicle and other household articles were claimed by the groom’s family and were thus provided in dowry.
On being unsatisfied with the amount of dowry, a further amount of Rs 5 lakhs was demanded. At about 8.45 pm of the 8th of February, 2019 a phone call was received which informed the appellant that if he wished to see his sister alive, an amount of Rs 5 lakhs should be arranged, after which such call was disconnected.
On the next day, the 9th of February, at about 1.30 am, the appellant allegedly received a phone call whereby he was required to take away the dead body of his sister.
The appellant thereafter visited the matrimonial home of his sister, and upon finding it locked was informed to collect such dead body from the district hospital.
The Supreme Court, considering the order of the High Court which is intended to display some semblance of reasoning for justifying the grant of bail said, “The sentence which we have extracted earlier contains an omnibus amalgam of (i) “the entire facts and circumstances of the case”; (ii) “submissions of learned Counsel for the parties”; (iii) “the nature of offence”; (iv) “evidence”; and (v) “complicity of accused”. This is followed by an observation that the “applicant has made out a case for bail”, “without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case”. This does not constitute the kind of reasoning which is expected of a judicial order.”
The Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and MR Shah disagreed with the decision of the Allahabad High Court on granting the bail, and in the opinion of the apex Court, the High Court was oblivious of the seriousness of the offence for which the respondent was accused, whereby “a woman has met an unnatural end within a year of marriage.”
The Supreme Court stated thus “The seriousness of the alleged offence has to be evaluated in the backdrop of the allegation that she was being harassed for dowry; and that a telephone call was received from the accused in close-proximity to the time of death, making a demand. There are specific allegations of harassment against the accused on the ground of dowry.”
The Supreme Court opined, “While the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons which matters the most.”
The Supreme Court invited the High Courts to discontinue the practice of the High Courts to grant bail to the accused offenders of heinous offences which lead to the death of people and opines that the pattern of grant of bail by the High Court to such accused not only deters the delivery of justice, but also shakes the credibility of the administration of criminal justice.
The Supreme Court, citing these reasons, set aside the bail that had been granted by the Allahabad High Court and clarified that “the observations contained in the present order are confined to the issue of bail and shall not affect the merits of the trial.”
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