Updated: May 15, 2020 10:26:57 pm
The Bombay High Court Friday held that habitual or repeat offenders, despite being eligible for release as per the Supreme Court directives to decongest prisons and subsequent guidelines by state high-powered committee, cannot claim release on temporary bail. It added that the trial court was justified in refusing bail to such applicants on merit.
“It would be necessary to also take into consideration merits of the case, gravity of offence and attitude of the accused of indulging into criminal activities despite preventive measures, the applicant cannot take benefit of the April circular and does not deserve temporary bail,” the high court said.
Observing this, a single judge bench of Justice Sadhana S Jadhav refused a plea seeking temporary release filed by former BJP corporator Mahesh B Patil after his bail application was rejected by a sessions court.
A high-powered committee constituted in the state following a March 23 SC order on decongesting prisons had decided that undertrial prisoners, booked for offences with maximum punishment up to seven years, will be released on interim bail initially for 45 days by furnishing personal bonds.
The High Court had on May 8 asked the state to clarify whether trial courts can deny temporary bail to undertrials, who are eligible for release as per Supreme Court directives to decongest prisons. The HC had noted that Patil was not accused under special laws.
On Friday, Additional Public Prosecutor S V Gavand submitted that the applicant is charge-sheeted in 17 cases and preventive measures have been taken against him on more than seven occasions as he had created terror in Kalyan area. Therefore, applicant Patil is a habitual offender and cannot be released on temporary bail, Gavand added.
Patil has been booked under Sections 25 (punishment for selling or manufacturing of arms) and 29 (punishment for knowingly purchasing arms) of the Arms Act. Though he was accused of conspiracy for murder of a fellow corporator, the police had dropped murder charges against him in present case.
Advocate Sachin Thorat for intervenor opposed Patil’s plea and submitted that there are eye witnesses in present case and in other cases, where applicant Patil is being prosecuted under murder charges and trial is in progress.
Patil had initially sought release before the superintendent of Adharwadi District Jail in Kalyan, where he is lodged. Later, he moved a bail plea before the sessions court. The sessions court had noted that the charges against the accused may be minor but the incident was serious and releasing him on bail would cause adverse effect to the police’s case and rejected the bail plea on April 28, which prompted him to move the High Court.
After hearing submissions on Friday, Justice Jadhav observed Patil is a repeat offender and noted, “It would be more than clear that the applicant has criminal antecedents and that he is into a habit of indulging into criminal activities and that it is not possible for the state machinery to control his activities, despite the fact that preventive action has been taken against him on several occasions.”
The judge referred to guidelines for releasing undertrials and noted, “The possibility of the prisoner committing offence in case of temporary reliefs such as habitual offenders or likelihood of his/her absconding should also be considered as important tests to decline such request for temporary release.”
Accepting prosecution’s claims, the court refused to grant temporary bail to the applicant and said that he cannot claim benefit as per SC guidelines.
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