“High Court Should Not Casually Suspend Sentence Awarded by Court”-SC

“It is difficult to appreciate that how the High Court could have casually suspended the execution of the sentence awarded by Court and granted bail to the Husband/Respondent No.2, without recording any reasons, with the casual observation of force in the argument made on behalf of the Appellant before the High Court.”

The Supreme Court allowed a Criminal Appeal No. 520 of 2020 (Preet Pal Singh vs State of U.P. & Others) 
filed by the Father of the deceased Victim, against the Order dated 21.01.2019 whereby Allahabad High Court at Lucknow granted bail to Husband of deceased Victim,
pending appeal, convicted under Section 498A, 304B,
406 and Section 3 & 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act by staying execution of sentence of imprisonment.

Background:

On the night of 24/25.08.2010, within about 81/2 months of marriage with Sandeep Singh Hora (Respondent No.2),
the Victim died in unnatural circumstances.

On 25.8.2010, an F.I.R No.352/2010 was lodged on the complaint of the Father of Victim (Appellant), pursuant to which,
a criminal case was initiated against Sandeep Singh Hora, his parents and his sister under Sections 498A, 304B,
406 and 411 of the IPC and Sections 3 /4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Sandeep Singh Hora (Respondent No.2),
Husband of the deceased Victim, was convicted by the Sessions Court at Lucknow for offences under Sections 304B,
498A and 406 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 

Feeling aggrieved, the Respondent No.2 filed an appeal in the Allahabad High Court at Lucknow.
He also filed an application praying grant of bail, during the pendency of the appeal.

How the matter reached to Supreme Court:

The Allahabad High Court at Lucknow after briefly recording the submissions of the respective parties passed a “short,
cryptic, non speaking order”, granting bail to the Husband. Such an order was challenged before the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court took exception of the matter and observed that 

“It is difficult to appreciate that how the High Court could have casually suspended the execution of the sentence awarded by Court and granted bail to the Husband/Respondent No.2, without recording any reasons, with the casual observation of force in the argument made on behalf of the Appellant before the High Court.”

The Supreme Court ultimately while allowing the appeal of the Father of Victim and cancelling the bail, observed that:

  1. The Sessions Court has convicted Respondent No.2 based on evidence and further the Respondent No.2 had failed point out any patent illegality in the Order of Sessions Court. 
  2. Though detailed examination on merits of the case is not required by Court, while considering bail application, but jurisdiction should be exercised judiciously.
  3. There is a substantial difference between the grant of bail under Section 439 Cr.P.C., in case of Pre-trial arrest and suspension of sentence under Section 389 Cr.PC. and grant of bail, after the conviction.
  4. In the case of grant of bail under Section 439 Cr.P.C., the presumption of innocence is there, and bail is the rule and jail is the exception.
  5. However, in the case of bail after conviction, there is finding of guilt by a competent court, who has held trial. In this case, the principle of bail is rule and jail is an exception is not applicable.
  6. Court considering bail application in post-conviction matters should consider prima facie case on merits of the appeal.
  7. There should be a compelling reason to grant bail and which should be recorded in the Order as required under Section 389(1) Cr.P.C.

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