Saturday, July 10, 2010

Court told to decide bail applications on merits

Court told to decide bail applications on merits

An application for anticipatory bail is normally filed at the stage of investigation. It is the informant who is the best person to furnish the material before the court so as to enable it to conclude as to whether advance bail is to be granted or not. It is further to be seen that a victim is a part of criminal justice, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court observed on Wednesday.

In his order on a petition seeking to set aside an order of the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Madurai, in April this year and direct the lower court to permit the petitioner to put forth her arguments in petitions seeking anticipatory bail, Justice M.M. Sundresh said a prosecution case was primarily based upon the victim or the person who set the case in motion. After all, the prosecution took up the case of a victim. While a decision of the competent criminal court did not affect society directly, it did so for the victim.

Mr. Justice Sundresh said that in a criminal proceedings which is sought to be quashed the complainant should be heard. A transfer application could also be filed by a victim. “If that is the position, it cannot be said that such a person shall not be allowed to conduct the prosecution along with the Public Prosecutor by supporting the case of the prosecution.”

The issue before the High Court in the case was as to whether a victim was entitled to be heard and take part in a criminal proceedings or not.

The case was that a woman who was married on July 2, 2009, committed suicide. Following a complaint against Samuel Raj, his wife and son for an alleged offence under Sections 304-B (Dowry death) and 498-A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), Mr. Raj filed anticipatory bail. The girl's father sought to intervene in the order to put forth his objections. His application was dismissed even without being numbered by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Madurai, holding that such an application was not maintainable. Following this, Mr. Raj withdrew the anticipatory bail plea, filed another application before the High Court and obtained the bail.

The petitioner submitted that even though anticipatory bail had been granted, the lower court's order dismissing the plea to intervene in the anticipatory bail applications was illegal and liable to be set aside. The order would stand in the way of the petitioner in opposing the applications for bail or anticipatory bail filed by the other accused.

Disposing of the petition, Mr. Justice Sundresh said the victim had got every right to take part in the prosecution. A procedural law would be in aid of the justice delivery system. He said if an application is filed in future by other accused in the case either seeking anticipatory bail or bail, the petitioner was at liberty to file intervening applications. The Judge directed the court concerned to number the application and permit the petitioner to intervene and decide the bail or anticipatory bail applications on merits.

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