The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that delay in registration of a complaint in rape case cannot be the grounds for seeking pre-arrest bail.
A Bench of Justice H S Madaan held that the pre- arrest bail is a discretionary relief and is to be granted in exceptional cases and not in routine. It is meant to save the innocent persons from harassment and inconvenience, and not to screen the culprits from custodial interrogation.
The Bench made this observation while hearing the anticipatory bail plea of Sukhdev Lal alias Bitta, who was booked by the Punjab Police on December 10, 2019, for allegedly raping and sexually harassing a girl at Hoshiarpur.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that there is a delay of about seven months in approaching the police and reporting the matter. On the day of the incident, the petitioner was on his duty at the State Bank of India, Mahilpur branch, Hoshiarpur district, where he works as a Daftri and a wrong case has been filed against him.
After hearing the argument, the Bench held that “such type of pleas are not much relevant while deciding a petition for grant of pre-arrest bail. Such grounds may have some merit and significance while determining the guilt of the accused during the trial but not in the present case to find entitlement of petitioner for grant of prearrest bail”.
“Nevertheless, it may be observed that the complainant comes out to be belonging to a poor and orthodox section of society where a young unmarried girl being subjected to sexual assault by a person is taken as some sort of stigma on the girl and her family. It requires a lot of moral courage to disclose the unfortunate incident and informed the police in that regard. Therefore, delay in such type of cases is not given much weightage. However, that question is to be seen and decided by the trial court on the basis of evidence available and other facts and circumstances,” the Bench noted.
The Bench observed that the allegations against the petitioner are very grave and serious. He molested the complainant for a long time and then raped her several times. On one occasion, he got his immoral act photographed by his wife. The gravity and seriousness of allegations of raping a young girl do not warrant grant of concession of pre-arrest bail to the petitioner.
While dismissing the bail plea, the Bench held the custodial interrogation of the petitioner is required for investigation and to effect the recovery of money and documents. In case custodial interrogation of the petitioner is denied to the investigating agency, that would leave many loose ends and gaps in the investigation affecting the investigation being carried out adversely which is not called for.
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