Today in the case of Arnab Goswami, the Supreme Court has pronounced detailed reasoning behind the order granting him Interim Bail.
The Court observed that criminal law should not become a tool for harassment of citizens.
While pronouncing the judgement, the Bench remarked that ‘deprivation of liberty for a single day is a day too many.
The Bench also ordered that interim orders will remain in force till further proceedings and the parties have the liberty to pursue a further remedy.
Supreme Court observed that Mr Goswami was targeted because of his opinions which were palatable to many people.
According to the Bench, whether the appellant has made out a case for quashing of the FIR is something that the High Court will decide but in their opinion that the High Court failed to make a prima facie evaluation of the FIR. Therefore it abdicated its duty as protector of liberty.
High Court Can Grant Bail Under Article 226 of Constitution
Hon’ble Supreme Court also emphasizes that the High Court had the power to protect the citizen by invoking Article 226.
In this regard, the Court remarked that Courts must be alive to safeguard the interest of the public and to ensure that enforcement of criminal law was not obstructed.
It was observed that the High Court of Bombay failed to discharge its function at two levels:
- Bombay HC declined to evaluate prima facie in option for quashing the FIR if an arguable case has been made out or not.
- It declined to grant interim bail.
According to the Bench, the High Court should have considered the following settled principles while considering bail application filed under Article 226:
- Nature of offence, the severity of punishment in case of conviction and nature of the accusation.
- If there was a reasonable apprehension of the accused tampering with evidence or him threatening the witnesses.
- Possibility of the accused fleeing.
- The past criminal history of the accused
- If ingredients of the offence were made out in the FIR
- The significant interest of the State or public
As per the Judges, if the HC had considered if prima facie, ingredients of offence were made in the FIR then would reach the same conclusion that we(Supreme Court) reached that prima facie ingredients of an offence were not made out.
While giving the reason behind granting of bail, the Bench stated that an evaluation of the FIR does not establish ingredients of the offence of abetment to suicide u/s 306 and the appellant was resident of India and was also not a flight risk.
The Bench further emphasizes that the duty of the Courts was to ensure criminal law does not become a weapon for harassment of citizens.
Regarding the role of the Courts, the Bench remarked that Courts should be the first line of defence against deprivation of liberty of citizens.
Reliance was placed in the State of Rajasthan, Jaipur vs Balchand, where it was held that the basic rule of the criminal justice system was bail and not jail.
As per the Bench, people who are incarcerated suffer immensely. Ordinary citizens who don’t have the means to approach the High Court and Supreme Court languish in jails as undertrials; therefore, the remedy of bail was the expression of humaneness of the justice system.
It was also elaborated that the bail is the rule and jail was the exception. In cases where High Courts get overburdened, chances of incarceration increases and the accused remain in jail as an undertrial.
Title: Arnab Manoranjan Goswami Versus The State of Maharashtra & Ors.
Case No.: Criminal Appeal No. 742 of 2020
Date of Order:27.10.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud and Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee