In Temporary Bail have to Balance the Public Interest in the Enforcement of Criminal Justice with the Rights of the Accused: SC

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Brief Facts
  • An appeal was filed against the Bombay High Court order refusing to allow Parvez Noordin Lokhandwalla to travel to the US for a period of eight weeks from 25 July 2020 to 6 September 2020.
  • He had argued before the court that, being a Green Card holder, it was obligatory for him to go back to the US in a specified period of his departure from that country, failing which the conditions for revalidation of the Green Card would not be fulfilled. But, the High Court refused to relax the conditions imposed by it for the grant of interim bail on the ground that an FIR has been registered against him.

While allowing his appeal, the bench observed that the lodging of an FIR should not in the facts of the present case be a bar on the travel of the appellant to the US for eight weeks to attend to the business of revalidating his Green Card. It observed:

The language of Section 437(3) of the CrPC which uses the expression “any condition… otherwise in the interest of justice” has been construed in several decisions of this court. Though the competent court is empowered to exercise its discretion to impose “any condition” for the grant of bail under Sections 437 (3) and 439 (1) (a) of the CrPC, the discretion of the court has to be guided by the need to facilitate the administration of justice, secure the presence of the accused and ensure that the liberty of the accused is not misused to impede the investigation, overawe the witnesses or obstruct the course of justice.

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The conditions which a court imposes for the grant of bail – in this case, temporary bail – have to balance the public interest in the enforcement of criminal justice with the rights of the accused. The human right to dignity and the protection of constitutional safeguards should not become illusory by the imposition of conditions which are disproportionate to the need to secure the presence of the accused, the proper course of an investigation and eventually to ensure a fair trial. The conditions which are imposed by the court must bear a proportional relationship to the purpose of imposing the conditions. The nature of the risk which is posed by the grant of permission as sought in this case must be carefully evaluated in each case.

The Court allowed him to travel to the US, subject to his furnishing an undertaking before the date of travel that he will return to India after the expiry of a period of eight weeks and that he shall be available on all dates of hearing before the court of criminal jurisdiction unless specifically exempted from personal appearance. The Court further ruled that the lodging of an FIR shall not in the facts of the present case be a bar on the travel of the appellant to the US for eight weeks to attend to the business of revalidating his Green Card.

Case Name: Parvez Noordin Lokhandwalla vs. State of Maharashtra
Case no.: Criminal Appeal No. 648 of 2020
Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee

Also Read: Interim Bail in Habeas Corpus Petitions Challenging Preventive Detention can be granted only in Exceptional Circumstances: Madras HC

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