The Supreme Court has reiterated that the process of criminal law cannot be utilised for arm-twisting and money recovery, particularly while opposing the prayer for bail.
“The question as to whether pre-arrest bail, or for that matter regular bail, in a given case is to be granted or not is required to be examined and the discretion is required to be exercised by the Court with reference to the material on record and the parameters governing bail considerations. Putting it in other words, in a given case, the concession of pre-arrest bail or regular bail could be declined even if the accused has made payment of the money involved or offers to make any payment; conversely, in a given case, the concession of pre-arrest bail or regular bail could be granted irrespective of any payment or any offer of payment…" a bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy added.
The division bench further emphasised that, ordinarily, there is no justification in adopting such a course that for the purpose of being given the concession of pre-arrest bail, the person apprehending arrest ought to make payment.
Recovery of money is essentially within the realm of civil proceedings, the court added.
With this view, the SC reaffirmed the order granting pre-arrest bail to the accused but, the condition therein, of payment of Rs 75,000 came to be annulled.
In the case before the top court, the petitioner-informant had questioned the order passed by the Patna High Court, whereby the HC took note of the offer made by the accused, of making payment of a sum of Rs 75,000 to the petitioner/informant and, considering such an offer and having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case pertaining to offences under sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, granted the concession of pre-arrest bail to the accused, subject to the offered payment.
The SC noted that one of the submissions before the High Court while seeking pre-arrest bail had been that one of the accused, namely Vijaya Malviya, was granted pre-arrest bail by the HC after considering that the money involved in the matter had been returned by a bank draft in the sum of Rs. 6,00,000, drawn in favour of the informant, which was handed over to her counsel.
The pre-arrest bail plea of the respondent accused before the top court was, however, opposed by the state, and thereafter, an offer was made that the accused would make payment of another sum of Rs 75,000 by way of demand draft within six weeks. And accepting such a submission, the High Court granted the concession of pre-arrest bail, subject to the offered payment.
The SC observed in this regard that there was a practice of criminal proceedings being prosecuted only as money recovery proceedings.
Thus, while affirming the order granting pre-arrest bail, the condition therein, of payment of Rs 75,000 was removed.
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