Long delay in lodging FIR can be a valid consideration for grant of anticipatory bail: SC
The Apex Court has ruled that a long delay in lodging FIR can be a valid consideration for grant of anticipatory bail.
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order dated 08.09.2020 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh in CRMM No. 26304 of 2020, former Director General of Police (DGP), Punjab, Sumedh Singh Saini approached to the Apex Court. He had sought anticipatory bail in connection with the 1991 Balwant Singh Multani murder case.
It is alleged that in the year 1991 one Balwant Singh Multani – brother of the informant was illegally abducted from his residence at Mohali by a team of officials operating under the instructions of the appellant; that he was severely and inhumanly tortured while in custody, by and at the behest of the appellant.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed his application seeking anticipatory bail. In appeal before the Apex Court, Saini alleged that the present FIR is filed with a malafide intention to harass the appellant and at the instance of the present party in power in the State. It is submitted that even otherwise the present FIR is not maintainable as being a second FIR on the same set of facts and has been registered after a delay of 29 years of the alleged incident. It is submitted that earlier attempt to falsely implicate the appellant failed and a similar FIR for the very incident in question and with somewhat similar allegations came to be quashed by this Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, reported in (2011) 14 SCC 770.
Observations made by the Court
- The Court ruled that, “However, considering the fact that the impugned FIR has been lodged/filed by the brother of the deceased after a period of almost 29 years from the date of the incident and after a period of 9 years from the date of the decision of this Court in the case of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar (supra) and nothing is on record that in between he had taken any steps to initiate criminal proceedings and/or lodged an FIR, we are of the opinion that at 11 least a case is made out by the appellant for grant of anticipatory bail under Section 438, Cr.P.C. Many a time, the delay may not be fatal to the criminal proceedings. However, it always depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. However, at the same time, a long delay like 29 years as in the present case can certainly be a valid consideration for the grant of anticipatory bail.”Advertisement
- While granting him anticipatory bail, the bench noted that, “Looking to the status of the appellant and it is reported that he has retired in the year 2018 as Director General of Police, Punjab after 30 years of service and the alleged incident is of the year 1991 and even in the present FIR initially there was no allegation for the offence under Section 302 IPC and the allegations were only for the offences under Sections 364, 201, 344, 330, 219 and 120B of the IPC, for which there was an order of anticipatory bail in favour of the appellant and subsequently the offence under Section 302 IPC has been added on the basis of the statements of Jagir Singh and Kuldip Singh – approvers only, we are of the opinion that the appellant has made out a case for anticipatory bail.”
- The court also observed that whether the fresh/present proceedings are permissible in law are yet to be considered by this Court in the pending proceedings for quashing the impugned FIR.
Case Name: Sumedh Singh Saini vs. State of Punjab
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.827 OF 2020
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, MR Shah
[ Long delay in lodging FIR can be a valid consideration for grant of anticipatory bail: SC ]