Two judges Bench of the Supreme Court comprised of Justice M. R. Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna while hearing a criminal appeal observed that merely because the prosecution case rests on circumstantial evidence cannot be a ground to release the accused on bail, if during the course of the investigation the evidence/material has been collected and prima facie the complete chain of events is established.
The above observation came in a criminal appeal which was filed by the appellant (father of the deceased) against the order of the High Court by virtue of which bail was granted to the accused/respondent no. 2 who was facing trial for the commission of offences under Sections 302, 120(B), 114, 304A of the IPC and under Sections 177, 184 & 134 of the Motor Vehicle Act.
As per the prosecution, the respondent no. 2 / accused hatched a criminal conspiracy with other co-accused to kill his wife to make out a case of accidental death with intention to receive monetary benefits as the respondent no.2 had taken the accidental insurance policy jointly with his wife of Rs. 60 lakhs. To execute his plan, the respondent no. 2/accused also paid Rs. 2 Lakhs to the driver of the offending vehicle to treat the offence as an accident in collision with each other.
The accused/respondent no. 2 had earlier filed a regular bail application before the Court of Sessions which came to be dismissed and thereafter the accused preferred the bail application under Section 439 CrPC before the High Court and the High Court by way of impugned order has granted bail to the accused/respondent no. 2.
The appellant assailed the order of the High Court on the grounds that the High Court granted bail to the accused without adverting to the material collected during the investigation and without considering the gravity of the offence and the criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill his wife for monetary benefits.
The appellant submitted that the High Court not assigned any reasons except that it is a case of circumstantial evidence which can be said to be a weak piece of evidence.
Observations of the Court:
The Court while accepting the submission of the appellant observed that the High Court has not at all adverted to the material collected during the course of investigation.
The High Court has directed to release respondent no.2 in such a serious offence of hatching conspiracy to kill his wife, by simply observing that as it is a case of circumstantial evidence, which is a weak piece of evidence, it is not legal and proper to deny bail to respondent no.2.
Merely because the prosecution case rests on circumstantial evidence cannot be a ground to release the accused on bail, if during the course of the investigation the evidence/material has been collected and
prima facie the complete chain of events is established, the Court observed.
The Court said that the reasons given by the High Court can hardly be a ground to release the accused on bail in a case of committing the offence under Section 302 read with 120B IPC and in a case of hatching conspiracy to kill his wife.
The Court after relying upon various judgments in matters of grant of bail held that the impugned order of the High Court cannot be sustained and deserves to be set aside and further directed the accused to surrender before the Jail authorities within one week.
Ishwarji Nagaji Mali vs State of Gujarat and another
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 70 OF 2022
Coram: Justice M. R. Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna
Date of Judgment: 18-01-2020