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Bail in Economic Offences requires different approach by the Court: J&K High Court

The Court while denying concession of bail to the applicants has observed that Economic Offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach in the matter of bail. The economic offence having deep rooted conspiracies and involving huge loss of public funds needs to be viewed seriously and considered as grave offences affecting the economy of the country as a whole and thereby posing serious threat to the financial health of the country.

The applicants were involved in FIR No. 04/2019 lodged under Section 420, 120-B of RPC registered at police station Mendhar, District Poonch. During the investigation, it was found that the applicants along with other co-accused have swindled an amount of Rs. 147, 67, 92,256/- by floating a private company in the name and style of Hablas Pvt. Ltd. They collected the money from the people of that area and undertook to double the same within one month. Both the applicants had filed bail applications which were clubbed and heard by the Court simultaneously.

Observations of the Court:

The Court, while rejecting the contentions of the applicants that preliminary chargesheet has been produced which is incomplete, observed that Clause (a) (i) (ii) of the proviso to Section 167 (2) Cr.P.C provides, that if the investigating agency fails to complete the investigation within the statutory period of 60 days or 90 days, as the case may be, from the date of first remand, the accused becomes entitled to bail by right of default.

Section 173(1) of the Cr.P.C. provides that every investigation under Chapter XII shall be completed without unnecessary delay. Sub-section (2) of Section 173 Cr.P.C. provides that as soon as the investigation is completed, the officer-in-charge of a police station shall forward to the magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence on the police report. Section 173 (2) also provides the particulars, which a police report has to contain.

Therefore, from a combined reading of Section 167 (2) and 173 (i) & (ii), it is apparent that if the police failed to submit a final report in terms of Section 173(2) of the Cr.P.C within the statutory period of 90 days or 60 days as the case may be, the accused becomes entitled to bail as a matter of right.

The contention of the learned State counsel was that in the present case, the charge-sheet submitted against the petitioners was not a preliminary charge-sheet and that whether said charge-sheet is a final report in terms of Section 173 (2) of the Cr.P.C has to be considered on the basis of the overall materials collected and produced before the court along with the report and not on the basis of an isolated statement or averment made in the charge-sheet.

The Court further observed as under;

“In the present case, apparently on the basis of FIR lodged by the informant, police completed the investigation and initially submitted the charge sheet against the petitioners and others, and having considered the broad spectrum of the conspiracy involved in the case, police has continued with further investigation.”

The Court also rejected the plea that name of the accused does not figure in FIR. While rejecting the plea, the Court observed that FIR is not a substantial piece of information and it only sets criminal law in motion, the involvement of any other accused whose name does not figure in FIR, can also be inferred, if during investigation evidence comes against him. While granting or refusing bail, the Court has to see the nature of accusation, gravity of the offence for which the accused have been found involved and impact of granting bail on general public.

The Court importantly observed that the applicants along with other accused have been found involved in swindling of huge amount of Rs.147,67,92,256/- of innocent persons of locality on the promise of doubling the same within one month. The applicants and other accused have used the money of public for their own use by purchasing properties at Jammu and outside Jammu. In case bail is granted, the trust of the general public, especially the persons who have deposited the money with the company, will be shaken and they will lose faith on Courts.

Ultimately, the Court dismissed both the bail applications.

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Case Details:

Zafar Iqbal vs State Of J&K
CrlM Nos. 1430/2019
Mr. B. S. Salathia, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Rajiv Chargotra,
Advocates in Bail App No. 170/2019.
Mr. Anil Sethi, Advocate in Bail App No. 192/2019.
Mr. Raman Sharma, AAG, for the respondent