Bail Not To Be Considered Only When Accused Is Dying: Delhi High Court

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The discretion for granting interim bail to the accused on medical ground may not be exercised only when they are breathing their last or may not live long enough, the Delhi High Court has said while granting interim bail to a 59-year-old man in a money laundering case till February 10.
The high court also directed the authorities to avoid giving long dates to prisoners for medical check-up and instead act with promptness to ensure they are examined early.

The high court’s direction came while granting interim bail to Vijay Agrawal in a money laundering case on medical grounds. The man said he was suffering from various ailments relating to spine and back for which he had been under constant medical supervision.

Justice D K Sharma said article 21 of the Constitution (protection of life and personal liberty) not only gives a fundamental right to live but the right to live with dignity.

Right to live a healthy life is also one of the facets of fundamental rights granted by the Constitution of this country and a consistent view has been taken that if sufficient treatment is available in the jail then preferably the same should be provided to the prisoners, the high court said.

“This court firmly believes that a person in custody suffering from serious ailment should be given an opportunity to have the adequate and effective medical treatment. The discretion for granting the interim bail on medical ground may not be exercised only at a stage when the person is breathing last or is on the position that he may not survive,” it said.

The high court said no matter how serious the offence may be, the health condition of a human being is “paramount” and the custody during the period of investigation cannot be termed punitive in nature.

“The health concern of a person in custody has to be taken care of by the State and keenly watched by the judiciary. Every person has a right to get himself adequately and effectively medically treated,” it said.

Agrawal, who was arrested on March 14 and is in custody since then, said he was suffering from serious lumbar pain and had nerve compression resulting in immense pain and stiffness of limbs.

His counsel submitted the jail authorities tried to get the MRI/LS (a radiological test) done but the date fixed by the hospital is December 8, 2023 and contended that on account of lack of treatment the applicant’s strength and sensory powers have immensely decreased.

The counsel for the Enforcement Directorate submitted no ground for interim bail was made out as the man’s condition was stable. He sought dismissal of the interim bail application and suggested a regular bail petition may be heard on merits.

The high court, however, observed that the kind of ailments which the man has been suffering from are really very painful and need immediate attention.

“Therefore this court, without going into the merits of the case and only on a limited point that let the petitioner get his suitable neurology examination conducted, is inclined to grant the interim bail on medical grounds,” it said.

Noting that the date for MRI has been given for December next year, the court said it cannot ask the man to wait for further one year only for an advanced neurological test.

It clarified the interim bail on medical grounds was being granted on the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and will definitely not be taken as a precedent. It asked the accused to furnish a bail bond of ₹ 1 lakh with two sureties of the like amount.

“The petitioner shall get himself examined/treated at a hospital of his choice and can have the opinion of any specialist within the territory of National Capital Region. Petitioner shall not be in touch with the co-accused and shall not make any effort to threaten or tamper with the prosecution witnesses. He shall not in any manner misuse his liberty,” the court said.

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