Importance of assigning reasons for grant or denial of bail can never be “undermined” as it is a significant safeguard that ensures that the discretionary power has been exercised in a “judicious manner”, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
The observations came in a judgement by which a bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli cancelled the regular bail granted to a man by the Allahabad High Court in a murder case, saying, “for grant or denial of bail, the ‘nature of crime' has huge relevancy.
“There is certainly no straight jacket formula which exists for courts to assess an application for grant or rejection of bail but the determination of whether a case is fit for the grant of bail involves balancing of numerous factors, among which the nature of the offence, the severity of the punishment and a prima facie view of the involvement of the accused are important,” Justice Murari, writing the judgement for the bench, said.
Referring to the principles governing bail jurisdiction, it said normally the top court does not interfere with such an order.
“However, it is equally incumbent upon the High Court to exercise its discretion judiciously, cautiously, and strictly in compliance with basic principles laid down in a catena of judgements by this court,” it said.
The 25-page verdict dealt in detail with the importance of assigning reasons by the courts while granting or denying bail to an accused and said that it gives the assurance that relevant factors have been considered “disregarding extraneous considerations”.
“The importance of assigning reasoning for grant or denial of bail can never be undermined. There is a prima facie need to indicate reasons, particularly in cases of grant or denial of bail where the accused is charged with a serious offence. The sound reasoning in a particular case is a reassurance that discretion has been exercised by the decision-maker after considering all the relevant grounds and by disregarding extraneous considerations,” it said.
The duty to record reasons is a significant safeguard that ensures that the discretion which is entrusted to the court, is exercised in a judicious manner, it said.
The verdict also referred to principles governing the grant of bail, and supervening circumstances and gave illustrations where the court should not grant such a relief to an accused.
“The jurisdiction to grant bail has to be exercised cautiously on the basis of well-settled principles having regard to the facts and circumstances of each case,” it said.
The factors such as whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence, the nature, and gravity of the accusation, severity of punishment in the event of conviction should be borne in mind while deciding such pleas, it said.
The danger of absconding, character, behaviour, means, position, and standing of the accused, the likelihood of the offence being repeated, reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being influenced, and danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail are also required to be considered, it said.
The top court said the cancellation of bail cannot be limited to the occurrence of supervening circumstances and if the court granting bail takes into account irrelevant material and ignores relevant ones, then it can be set aside.
“Where the court granting bail overlooks the influential position of the accused in comparison to the victim of abuse or the witnesses especially when there is prima facie misuse of position and power over the victim” then also bail cannot be granted, it said.
The verdict came on an appeal of Deepak Yadav whose father was shot dead by accused Harjeet Yadav in a locality of Lucknow on January 9, 2021.
The accused was granted bail by the high court on October 22, 2021, during the pendency of the trial.