Filing simultaneous bail pleas in different Courts: Punjab & Haryana High Court issues guidelines to curb practice

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court last week took a serious view of the practice of filing a second bail application before trial court/ sessions court during the pendency of bail application before High Court by the same accused without disclosing such pendency [Kulwant Singh @ Sajan v State of Punjab].

Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri issued several directions to put in place safeguards and measures to prevent the practice in future.

The High Court opined that the ends of justice would be served if the petitions are dismissed with costs. Thus, the three petitioners were directed to deposit costs of ₹10,000 each within two months.

In a nutshell
– The Punjab & Haryana High Court took note of the practice of petitioners filing bail applications before the Sessions Judge during pendency of similar applications before the High Court;

– Serious view was taken of this misconduct, and the Court examined whether it should cancel the bail of the petitioners who had defaulted or impose costs;

– Finding that suppression of material facts would remain subservient to the right of liberty under Article 21, the bail orders were not interfered with;

– However, costs were imposed on petitioners;

– Directions were issued to prevent the wrongful practice in the future.

To elaborate
The issue arose when the High Court was hearing regular bail applications, during the pendency of which, applications were filed before Additional Sessions Judges without disclosing the pendency before the High Court.

On the suggestions of the Amicus Curiae, Senior Advocates Kanwaljit Singh and RS Rai, the Court examined whether the bail granted to the petitioners by Additional Sessions Judges should be annulled on the basis of suppression and concealment of material fact, or costs should be imposed on them for misconduct.

While considering the issue, the single-judge took a ‘more realistic and pragmatic approach’ and thus, found that suppression of material facts would remain subservient to the right of liberty granted to the petitioners under Article 21 since the bail orders were decided on merits.

“The protection guaranteed therein attaches an element of not only life and liberty but also encompasses an element of dignity by conferring a Constitutional right on not only the citizens of India but also on any person including an alien. Although the right conferred is not absolute but there has to be legally justifiable reason for departure from the same,” Justice Puri recorded.

However, the Court highly disapproved the conduct of the petitioners in no uncertain terms.

“It was the solemn duty of the petitioners or their counsels to have disclosed this fact to the learned Additional Sessions Judge with truthfulness and honesty as these two elements are sacrosanct for imbibing purity in the administration of justice,” the Court said.

The High Court relied on a judgment of the Supreme Court in Kishore Samrite v State of U.P. where it had observed that it was the bounden duty of the Court to ensure that dishonesty and any attempt to surpass the legal process must be effectively curbed, and one way to curb this tendency is to impose realistic or punitive costs.

Thus, it was concluded that, “in order to secure the ends of justice, the petitioners are liable to be burdened with costs.”

Directions issued
– It shall be ensured by all the Sessions Judges of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory, Chandigarh that in the bail applications (regular/anticipatory) submitted in their Sessions Division, the Ahlmad attached with the respective Court should verify from the official website of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh as to whether any bail application qua the same applicant in FIR/complaint is pending/decided before the High Court or not and the status of the same, if any.

– After verifying the aforesaid, a report be placed on the case file for the perusal of the concerned Court.

– It must be mandatorily mentioned in every application for bail (regular/anticipatory) as to whether such or similar application for bail has or has not been made before any other Court. In case the same was made, then its status be also mentioned.

– The Director Prosecution of State of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory, Chandigarh shall instruct the Public Prosecutors of their respective States that they shall be duty bound to supply necessary information to the concerned Court regarding pendency or decision of any earlier bail application of the accused in the same offence after taking information from the concerned I.O/police official.

– The instructions issued by this Court from time to time be complied with meticulously.

The High Court judgment was directed to be circulated to all the District & Sessions Judges as well as Director Prosecution of the State of Punjab, Haryana, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh through the Registrar-General.

Senior Advocate G Mann and advocates Gursewak Singh, Karan Nanda, Rishu Mahajan, Shivam Joshi, Karanjit Singh and Vijay Bhaskar appeared for the petitioners.

The respondents were represented by Punjab Deputy Advocate-General Arun Kumar Kaundal.

Read Judgment here

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