Supreme Court issues directions to tackle deceptive bail pleas; says litigants today mislead courts

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The Supreme Court on Friday lamented how litigants many a time have no respect for courts and go to any extent to mislead courts [Kusha Duruka vs State of Odisha].

A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal, therefore, issued directions to streamline bail applications that reach the appellate stages, to prevent anomalies that could mislead the court or result in conflicting bail orders

The Court did so while ruing the fact that the petitioner before it had tried to “pollute the stream of administration of justice” by pursuing bail pleas before both the Supreme Court and the Orissa High Court around the same time, without disclosing this fact to the High Court.

“In the last 40 years, the values have gone down and now a litigants can go to any extent to mislead the court. They have no respect for the truth. The principle has been evolved to meet the challenges posed by this new breed of litigants. Now it is well settled that a litigant, who attempts to pollute the stream of justice or who touches the pure fountain of justice with tainted hands, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final. Suppression of material facts from the court of law, is actually playing fraud with the court,” the Supreme Court stated.

Justice vikram nath and Justice Rajesh Bindal
The apex court lamented that such a state of affairs represents a degradation of moral values in society which could be because of “our education system.”

“Now we are more happy to hear anything except truth; read anything except truth; speak anything except truth and believe anything except truth. Someone rightly said that `Lies are very sweet, while truth is bitter, that’s why most people prefer telling lies’,” the Court further stated.

The Supreme Court emphasised that lawyers have to assist benches well in bail cases by acting like true officers of the court, and directed that all bail applications before courts must mandatorily mention the following details:

– Details and copies of order(s) passed in the earlier bail application(s) filed by the petitioner which have been already decided.

– Details of any bail application(s) filed by the petitioner, which is pending either in any court, below the court in question or the higher court, and if none is pending, a clear statement to that effect has to be made.

It underscored that such a system needs to be followed meticulously to avoid discrepancies in bail orders.

“In case it is mentioned on the top of the bail application or any other place which is clearly visible, that the application for bail is either first, second or third and so on, so that it is convenient for the court to appreciate the arguments in that light. If this fact is mentioned in the order, it will enable the next higher court to appreciate the arguments in that light,” the Court suggested.

It added that the registry concerned should annex a report regarding pending bail applications in connection with the crime concerned.

“The same system needs to be followed even in the case of private complaints as all cases filed in the trial courts are assigned specific numbers (CNR No.), even if no FIR number is there,” the Court said.

It is the duty of investigation officers and other officials assisting the Court to apprise the bench of different bail orders concerning the litigants before it, the top court said.

A copy of the verdict was directed to be sent to all Chief Justices through the Registrar Generals of High Courts for necessary action and corrections.

The Supreme Court issued the directions while dealing with a bail application by a man implicated in a drug possession case.

The accused had moved an appeal before the Supreme Court after his bail plea was rejected by the Orissa High Court in March 2023.

Pertinently, after the Supreme Court issued notice in his appeal, the bail applicant moved a second bail plea before the trial court and then the Orissa High Court.

While filing this second round of bail pleas (before the trial court and the Orissa High Court), the applicant omitted to mention that an earlier bail plea had already been rejected by the High Court and that his appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.

The Orissa High Court granted the accused bail in October 2023, a month after the top court had issued notice on the appeal, unaware that the Supreme Court had admitted an appeal against the rejection of an earlier bail plea.

On November 11, 2023, the accused told the Supreme Court that he had been granted bail by the Orissa High Court.

The Supreme Court, in turn, was surprised to find that the said bail order was secured by the accused without informing the High Court of his earlier bail rejection or the fact that an appeal in the same matter was pending before the apex court.

The Supreme Court criticised such conduct by the bail applicant but decided to take a lenient view instead of canceling bail altogether.

“Though considering the conduct of the petitioner, one of the option available was to cancel his bail, however, we do not propose to take such an extreme step in the case in hand. However, this can be the option exercised by the Court if the facts of the case so demand seeing the conduct of the parties,” the top court observed.

The appeal before the top court was dismissed as infructuous but a cost of ₹10,000 was imposed on the bail applicant. These costs was directed to be deposited with the Mediation and Conciliation Centre attached to the Orissa High Court within two months.

Advocates Haraprasad Sahu, Sushant Kumar Mallik and Pranaya Kumar Mohapatra appeared for the accused, one Kusha Duruka.

Advocate General Ashok Parija, Senior Advocate R Basant and advocates Prakash Ranjan Nayak, Balaram Nayak, Sibashish Misra and Chaitanya Chauhan appeared for the State of Odisha.

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