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Imposition Of Unjust And Improper Conditions Of Bail

There has been notable increase in the erroneous judgments regarding the Conditions of Bail. The above statement seems to be quite critical to the discretionary power of the Courts to impose the Conditions of Bail, however, the statement stands true and highly accurate. Here are few Judgments to exemplify that how erroneous the imposition of Conditions of Bail are in the recent times and why they are improper and defeats the purpose of Law:

The first in sequence is the Judgment delivered (on 19/05/2020) by the Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court dealing with Section 34 of the M.P. Excise act. The M.P. High Court in this case of Jagdish Lodhi vs. State of M.P. (M.Cr.C.No.13727/2020), was dealing with the unlawful possession of liquor with the applicant.

The interesting point popped up when the Court granted bail to the applicant (u/s 439, Cr.P.C.) with the condition that the applicant shall be released on bail on his furnishing personal bond of Rs.50,000/- (Rupees Fifty Thousand only) to the satisfaction of trial Court and that he will have to install Arogya Setu App.  Further the court went on imposing the condition that the applicant shall deposit Rs.1,000/- in PM CARES.

The second judgment in the sequence is again the judgment of M.P. High Court in the case of Shivkumar Vs. State of M.P. ( M.Cr.C.No. 43927/2019), decided on 22/10/2019. In this case there were series of charges against the applicant under section 307, 147, 148, 149, 323, 294, 341, 336, 324, 506, 201 of IPC. The applicant applied for bail u/s 439 of Cr.P.C, and subsequently the applicant was granted bail by the Hon'ble High Court.

However, the interesting point to note is the Condition of Bail imposed by the Court. The Court imposed the condition stating that applicant shall plant 10 saplings (either fruit bearing trees or Neem/ Peepal); alongwith tree guards or has to make arrangement for fencing for protection of the trees in his vicinity, because it is the duty of the applicant not only to plant the saplings but also to nurture them.

The third judgment in the series is the case of Banti Jatav vs. State of M.P. (M.Cr.C. No.46150/2019), decided by the M.P. High Court on 29/11/2019. In this case the applicant was facing the charges under Sections 306, 376, 323 of IPC. A bail application was presented u/s 439 of Cr.P.C and the bail was granted by the Hon'ble High Court. However, the focal point again remained the imposition of Conditions of Bail.

In this Judgment the Hon'ble Court imposed the condition that applicant shall serve the Primary Health Centre, Banmore, District Morena on every Monday and Tuesday from 9 am to 1 pm for one year and his role would be to assist the doctors/compounder while serving outdoor patients. He would not be allowed to move inside the Operation Theater and private wards and shall not be a source of infection and discomfort to the patients and concerned duty doctors shall ensure this. In December, 2020 applicant shall submit a report about the works done by him and suggestions, if any for improvement of the system.  

The fourth judgment in the sequence is the Judgment of Calcutta High Court [Sopikul, In Re, 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 838, decided on 16-4-2020]. In this case the applicant was facing the charges u/s 376 of IPC. The applicant was granted bail on the grounds that the applicant shall marry the victim. The court stated that if the marriage does not take place within the next 3 months or there is any further complaint from the victim against the accused within 6 months of the marriage, the bail may be annulled.

Now, the major question that pops up is, are such impositions in the form of Conditions of Bail relevant? To answer this we need to consider the Purpose of Bail. The main purpose of bail is to release accused from internment though court would still retain constructive control over him through sureties (State of Haryana vs. Nauratta Singh, AIR 2000 SC 1179). Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the Court to impose conditions at the time of granting bail.

The Court may, while granting bail to a person, ask him to surrender his passport as stated in Hazarilal vs. Rameshwar Prasad (AIR 1972 SC 484). The accused cannot be subjected to any condition which is not pragmatic and is unfair. It is the duty of the Court to ensure that the condition imposed on the accused is in consonance with the intendment and provisions of the sections and not onerous.

The primary objective of the provisions providing for the bail should not be to detain and arrest an accused person but to ensure his appearance at the time of trial and to make sure if the accused is held guilty, he is available to suffer the consequence of the offence as such committed, in terms of punishment in accordance with the law.

Therefore, the conditions such as compelling the applicant to marry the victim u/s 376 of IPC, compelling the applicant to plant trees, compelling the applicant to assist doctors etc. are not proper and are erroneous because it defeats the whole purpose of Bail. If the court asks the bail applicant to do charity work or plant trees as Conditions of Bail, then it's nothing but sentencing the applicant. It's almost like the Court pre-judged the guilt at the time of bail, which should not be the case. Purpose of bail must be that the investigation is protected and therefore the Conditions of Bail should not be the one as if it looks like sentencing the applicant. The court must not pre-judge the applicant at the time of trial and such conditions shall never be imposed.

Moving to another moot question, i.e., how far are the courts justified in imposing the condition, at the time of granting bail, regarding donations to be made into the Corona Relief Fund or PM CARES? The answer to this question has been clearly pointed out by the Apex Court in the case of Moti Ram v. State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1978 SC 1594). In this case the Apex Court held that the imposition of cash security or deposit of any amount for grant of bail is unjust, irregular and improper.

This judgment has also been considered by the Kerala High Court in the case of Chinna Rao Swayamvarappu vs. State of Kerala (Crl MC TMP No. 5 of 2020). The Hon'ble High Court was deciding the question, whether the bail condition imposed by the Sessions Judge that the petitioner should deposit an amount of Rs. 25,000 towards the Corona Relief Fund, just and proper? The court held that in view of the above declaration of law (Moti Ram), I find that the condition imposed by the learned Sessions Judge, that the petitioner should deposit an amount of Rs. 25,000 towards the Corona Relief Fund is unjust and improper. Hence, I quash the said condition.

Therefore, the Courts while deciding the Conditions of Bail shall keep in mind the judgment of Moti Ram vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and should not impose conditions such as donating money to the Corona Relief Fund or PM CARES. 

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