Bail can’t be refused as indirect process of punishing accused before conviction: Court

 A Delhi court has said bail cannot be refused as an indirect process of punishing an accused before he is convicted while releasing a man who has allegedly taken a bribe of Rs 12 lakh.

Special Judge Sunena Sharma granted bail to Rishi Raj, saying it is one of the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence that an accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

“It is one of the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence that the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Even assuming that the accused is prima facie guilty of an offence, bail cannot be refused in an indirect process of punishing the accused before he is convicted,” the judge said in the order passed on July 17.

The judge also noted that the accused was in judicial custody for more than a month and the audio and video recordings of the alleged transaction were already in the possession of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

She further noted that the accused was a public servant and had no previous involvement in any such matter, though he was under suspension on account of this case.

“In such a scenario, the apprehension of the CBI that the accused may flee from justice or influence the witnesses is without any basis. Moreover, if the accused is found misusing bail by indulging in any such acts, the CBI may approach this court for cancellation of bail,” the judge said.

The judge granted the relief to the accused on a bail bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of a like amount and directed that the accused will not leave the country without the court’s permission nor will he contact or influence the witnesses in any manner and will cooperate in the investigation.

The case was registered by the CBI on June 12 under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of a complaint from one Manoj Kumar Sheora, manager at the Gupta Multi-Speciality Hospital.

The complainant had alleged that Raj, who was working as an enforcement officer in the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), visited the hospital on April 26 and asked for documents related to records regarding the provident fund of the hospitals’ employees.

On April 27, the complainant visited the EPFO office and produced the relevant documents.

Thereafter, the accused told the complainant about irregularities in the records and that a penalty of Rs 1.5 crore would be imposed on account of the same.

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However, he proposed to settle the matter without any penalty on the payment of 20 per cent of the amount as bribe, which he reduced to Rs 12 lakh on the request of the complainant.

The complainant subsequently filed the complaint. A trap was laid and the accused was arrested while taking the bribe.

The application sought bail on the ground that the accused had the responsibility to look after his aged parents and wife, who is seven months pregnant.

The accused also claimed that no fruitful purpose would be served by further keeping him in custody as the investigation was almost complete and he was ready to join the probe as and when required.

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