The Supreme Court has said it is “amazed” to see an order of the Allahabad High Court which dismissed a plea by five accused seeking anticipatory bail in a criminal case but granted them protection against coercive steps for two months, terming it “self-contradictory”.
The high court had in May last year rejected the anticipatory bail application filed by five accused in a case registered in Saharanpur district under the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.
After the application was rejected, the counsel for the applicants had prayed before the high court that they may be afforded the liberty to move discharge application and, till its disposal, coercive steps may not be taken against them.
“In view of above, it is provided that the applicants may move discharge application as aforesaid. For a period of two months from today no coercive measures shall be adopted against applicants,” the high court had said in its order.
The state’s appeal against the high court order came up for hearing in the apex court before a bench of Justices B R Gavai and J B Pardiwala.
“We are amazed to see the order passed by the single judge of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad,” the bench said in its July 18 order.
The top court noted the application filed by the accused before the high court was vehemently opposed by the state’s counsel on the ground that they were hardened criminals having a history of crime and look out notices were also issued against them.
It noted that the high court, after hearing the parties, had rejected their application for anticipatory bail.
“However, after the application was rejected, a motion was made on behalf of the respondent(s) that they would like to move an application for discharge. The single judge of the high court while rejecting an application for anticipatory bail, in the same breath granted them protection for a period of two months,” the bench said.
“It is, thus, clear that self-contradictory orders have been passed by the high court. On the one hand, the application for anticipatory bail is rejected and, on the other hand, the interim protection is granted for a period of two months,” it said.
While allowing the appeal, the bench quashed the part of the high court order which had directed that no coercive steps shall be taken against these accused for two months.