Delhi High Court, bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said while hearing a bail plea that, accuse can not be denied right to fair trial. it also stated that, the accused cannot be kept in custody on the basis of the presumption that the accused will obstruct the trial.
“Nowhere is it the law that an accused, yet to be tried, is to be kept in custody only on a hunch or a presumption that he will prejudice or impede trial; or to send any message to the society”
Then bench also said that,
“the only message that goes-out to the society by keeping an accused in prison before finding him guilty, is that our system works only on impressions and conjectures and can keep an accused in custody even on presumption of guilt.”
Thursday, the bench while hearing the plea for bail in a money laundering case, directed the authorities to release Shivinder Mohan Singh (promoter for Fortis Healthcare) on a personal bond of Rupee One crore.
“The bench, however, noted that even though Singh was arrested after substantial time had lapsed since the registration of the case against him, there was no allegation of him of having tampered with evidence in any way before he was taken into custody.” The Print published.
The bench said that, investigating agency must come with credible material to satisfy the court beyond “reasonable doubt”.
“An investigating agency must come to court with the confidence that they have arrested an accused, based on credible material, and have filed a complaint or a charge-sheet with the certainty that they will be able to bring home guilt, by satisfying a court beyond reasonable doubt.”
The bench further said that, the investigating agency tries to keep the accused person in custody to punish the accused, is fear of acquittal of the accused.
“But when an investigating agency suggests that an accused be detained in custody as an undertrial for a prolonged period, even after the complaint or charge-sheet has been filed, it appears that the investigating agency is not convinced of its case and so it fears that the accused may ‘get-off’ by discharge or acquittal; and that therefore the only way to ‘punish the accused’ is to let him remain in custody as an undertrial.“
The bench observed that, “consequences of pre-trial detention are deleterious”
“It is beyond contention that the consequences of pre-trial detention are deleterious; and that keeping an undertrial in jail seriously jeopardises the preparation of his legal defence.”
The bench then said that, the accused person can not be denied “right to fair trial”.
“If kept in custody, the applicant will not be able to effectively brief and consult with his lawyers, collate evidence in his defence and thereby defend himself effectively. Thereby the applicant will be denied his right to fair trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution (cf. Moti Ram and Babu Singh, supra).”