Court has to evaluate seriousness of offence while granting bail to accused: SC

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A court has to evaluate the seriousness of an alleged offence while granting bail to an accused and order without reasons is fundamentally contrary to the norms which guide the judicial process, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud made the observation while setting aside an Allahabad high court order which granted bail to a man accused in a dowry death case.
“The high court cannot be oblivious, in a case such as the present, of the seriousness of the alleged offence, where a woman has met an unnatural end within a year of marriage.

“The seriousness of the alleged offence has to be evaluated in the backdrop of the allegation that she was being harassed for dowry; and that a telephone call was received from the accused in close-proximity to the time of death, making a demand,” the bench also comprising Justice M R Shah said.

The apex court said there are specific allegations of harassment against the accused on the ground of dowry.

“An order without reasons is fundamentally contrary to the norms which guide the judicial process. The administration of criminal justice by the High Court cannot be reduced to a mantra containing a recitation of general observations. “That there has been a judicious application of mind by the judge who is deciding an application under Section 439 of the CrPC must emerge from the quality of the reasoning which is embodied in the order granting bail,” the bench said.

The top court said that while the reasons may be brief, it is the quality of the reasons which matters the most. “That is because the reasons in a judicial order unravel the thought process of a trained judicial mind. We are constrained to make these observations because the reasons indicated in the judgment of the High Court in this case are becoming increasingly familiar in matters which come to this Court.

“ It is time that such a practice is discontinued and that the reasons in support of orders granting bail comport with a judicial process which brings credibility to administration of criminal justice,” the bench said.

The top court set aside the high court order which said,” Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, submissions of learned counsel for the parties and keeping in view the nature of offence, evidence, complicity of accused and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Court is of the view that the applicant has made out a case for bail.”

The brother of the deceased woman alleged in the FIR that at the time of the marriage, a cash amount of Rs 15 lakhs, a motor vehicle and other household articles were provided in dowry, however, they sought more money.

A case was registered under sections Sections 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 304-B (dowry death) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1861.

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