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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court noted that the lower courts do not exercise discretion in accordance with the principle of law enunciated by it regarding grant of bail in offences not falling within the prohibitory provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard an appeal of Iftikhar Ahmed against the Lahore High Court (LHC) order dated 19.04.2021.

The petitioner was accused of forging land papers.

The bench set aside the LHC order and granted bail to Iftikhar Ahmed.

The judgment observed that the courts below have viewed the case against the petitioner under sub-section (2) of Section 497 CrPC and simply relied, for declining bail, on the incriminating material available on the record to connect the petitioner with the commission of the offences alleged.

All the offences alleged against the petitioner do not fall within the prohibitory clause of subsection (1) of Section 497 CrPC and thus attract the principle that grant of bail in such offences is a rule and refusal an exception as authoritatively enunciated by this Court in several cases, said the judgment.

The court said the main purpose of keeping an under-trial accused in detention is to secure his attendance at the trial so that the trial is conducted and concluded expeditiously or to protect and safeguard the society, if there is an apprehension of repetition of offence or commission of any other untoward act by the accused.

The apex court said the instant case falls under the exception to the rule of grant of bail in offences and not covered by the prohibitory clause of Section 497(1) CrPC.

The judgment said that a court, which deals with an application for grant of bail in an offence not falling within the prohibitory clause of Section 497(1) CrPC must apply its judicious mind to the facts and circumstances of the case and to the conduct of the accused person, and decline to exercise the discretion of granting bail to him in such offence only when it finds any of the above noted circumstances or some other striking circumstance.

The judgment said the apex court has already cautioned the courts below in Muhammad Tanveer case, on not following the said principle, in the following terms: Once this Court has held in categorical terms that grant of bail in offences not falling within the prohibitory limb of section 497, CrPC shall be a rule and refusal shall be an exception, then the Courts of the country should follow this principle in its letter and spirit because principles of law enunciated by this Court are constitutionally binding [under Article 189] on all Courts throughout the country including the Special Tribunals and Special Courts.

The apex court noted that in the present case, neither the courts below, including the high court, have mentioned any circumstance that may bring the case of the petitioner under the exception of declining bail in offences not falling within the prohibitory clause of Section 497(1) CrPC nor the counsel for the State and the counsel for the complainant could show us any such circumstance or conduct of the petitioner that would bring the case of the petitioner under exception to the rule of granting bail in such offences.

The courts below, including the high court, have failed to adhere to the principle of law enunciated by this Court for exercise of discretion to grant bail in offences not falling within the prohibitory clause of Section 497(1) CrPC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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