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latest supreme court of india judgement

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Reportable

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal No. 742 of 2020
(Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5598 of 2020)

Arnab Manoranjan Goswami ….Appellant
Versus

The State of Maharashtra & Ors. ….Respondents
With
Criminal Appeal No. 743 of 2020
(Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5599 of 2020)
And With
Criminal Appeal No. 744 of 2020
(Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5600 of 2020)

J U D G M E N T
Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J
This judgment has been divided into sections to facilitate analysis. They are:
A The appeal
B The parties, the FIR and ‗A‘ Summary
C Previous proceedings against the appellant
D Re-opening of investigation and arrest of the appellant
E Submissions of Counsel
F Criminal Appeal No. 743 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5599 of 2020)
G Criminal Appeal No. 744 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5600 of 2020)
H Jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 and Section 482 CrPC
I Prima Facie evaluation of the FIR and the grant of bail
J Human liberty and the role of courts
K Conclusion

PART A

A The appeal
1 While invoking the jurisdiction of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay
under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India and Section 482 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (―CrPC‖), the appellant sought three
substantive reliefs:
(i) A writ of Habeas Corpus, claiming that he had been illegally arrested and
wrongfully detained by the Station House Officer (―SHO‖) at Alibaug Police
Station in the district of Raigad in Maharashtra in relation to a First
Information Report1
(―FIR‖) registered on 5 May 2018 under Sections 306
and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (―IPC‖) in spite of an earlier closure
report which was accepted by the Magistrate;
(ii) The quashing of the above-mentioned FIR; and
(iii) The quashing of the arrest memo on the basis of which the appellant had
been arrested.
These three reliefs2
are reflected in prayers (a), (b) and (c) of the petition before
the High Court.

1 CR No. 0059 of 2018
2
―(a) Issue a writ of habeas corpus and/or any other similar writ, order and direction of like nature, directing
the Respondents to produce the Petitioner who has been illegally arrested and wrongfully detained by
the Respondent No. 2 in relation to FIR, being C.R. No. 0059 of 2018 dated 5 May 2018, registered at
Alibaug Police Station, Raigad, under Sections 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, despite a
closure report being filed;
(b) Issue a writ of mandamus and/or any other similar writ, order and direction of like nature, quashing the
FIR, being C.R. No. 0059 of 2018, dated 5 May 2018, registered at Alibaug Police Station, Raigad,
under Sections 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860;
(c) Issue a writ of certiorari and/or any other similar writ, order and direction of like nature, quashing and/or
setting-aside the arrest memo, if any, on the basis of which the Respondents have wrongfully and
illegally arrested the Petitioner;‖
PART A
4
2 Pending the disposal of the petition, by an interim application in the
proceedings3
, the appellant sought his release from custody and a stay of all
further proceedings including the investigation in pursuance of the FIR.
3 A Division Bench of the High Court, by its order dated 9 November 2020,
noted that prayer (a) by which a writ of habeas corpus was sought was not
pressed. The High Court posted the hearing of the petition for considering the
prayer for quashing of the FIR on 10 December 2020. It declined to accede to the
prayer for the grant of bail, placing reliance on a decision of this Court in State of
Telangana vs Habib Abdullah Jeelani4
(―Habib Jeelani‖). The High Court was
of the view that the prayers for interim relief proceeded on the premise that the
appellant had been illegally detained and since he was in judicial custody, it
would not entertain the request for bail or for stay of the investigation in the
exercise of its extra-ordinary jurisdiction. The High Court held that since the
appellant was in judicial custody, it was open to him to avail of the remedy of bail
under Section 439 of the CrPC. The High Court declined prima facie to consider
the submission of the appellant that the allegations in the FIR, read as they
stand, do not disclose the commission of an offence under Section 306 of the
IPC. That is how the case has come to this Court. The appellant is aggrieved by
the denial of his interim prayer for the grant of bail.

3
―(a) Pending final hearing and disposal of the captioned writ petition, this Hon’ble Court be pleased to grant
bail to the Petitioner in FIR No. 59 of 2018 and direct the Respondents and/or each of them to
immediately release the Petitioner from illegal detention and wrongful custody and/or arrest by the
Respondents in view of detailed submissions made herein above, to meet the ends of justice.
(b) Pending the final hearing and disposal of the captioned writ petition, this Hon’ble Court be pleased to
stay all further proceedings, including the investigation in FIR No. 59 of 2018, with respect to the
Petitioner.‖
4
(2017) 2 SCC 779
PART B
5
B The parties, the FIR and ‘A’ Summary
4 The appellant is the Editor-in-Chief of an English television news channel,
Republic TV. He is also the Managing Director of ARG Outlier Media Asianet
News Private Limited which owns and operates a Hindi television news channel
by the name of R Bharat. The appellant anchors shows on both channels.
5 The appellant was arrested on 4 November 2020 in connection with FIR 59
of 2018 which was registered at Alibaug Police Station under Sections 306 and
34 of the IPC.
6 The genesis of the FIR can be traced back to December 2016, when a
company by the name of ARG Outlier Media Private Limited (―ARG‖) awarded a
contract for civil and interior work to another company, Concorde Design Private
Limited (―CDPL‖) which was owned substantially by Anvay Naik (the
―deceased‖).
7 The FIR was registered on 5 May 2018 on the complaint of Akshyata
Anvay Naik (the ―informant‖), the spouse of the deceased who is alleged to have
committed suicide. The contents of the FIR read thus:
―12. First Information contents:
Facts : I Smt. Akshata Anvay Naik Age 48 yeas, occupation
housewife, residing at 901, Rishabh Tower, Senapati Bapat
Marg, Elphistone West, Mumbai -25 personally remain
present and state in writing that my mobile No. 8169947073, I
am residing at the abovementioned address with my
deceased Anvay Madhukar Naik, daughter Adnya Naik
together. My husband is having company owned under name
and dstype as Concorde Design and we were having our
livelihood by doing business of architecture interior designing
and engineering consultancy,. My husband Anvay Madhukar
PART B
6
Naik is having his native place at Village Kavir, Tai. Alibaug
and at the said place my mother in law Kumud Madhukar
Naik is residing . therefore my husband used to visit in
between to my mother in law at Village Kavir Tai. Alibag . As
also my husband used to bring my mother in law Kumud Naik
in between with us at Mumbai. My husband for last two years
was having pressure as he did not received the money of
work carried out by him and he continuously used to inform
me and therefore I also called in the office of Amav Gosmani
and asked his accountant for payment of money of work done
by us. As also contacted to other businessman also and
informed that my husband is in great difficulty and as the
money is not received he is under great mental pressure.
Yesterday on 04.05.2018 at 3.45 pm in afternoon my
husband Anvay Madhukar Naik and my mother in law Kumud
Madhukar Naik left from our house at Mumbai and came at
Alibag Kavir. At evening 7.30 I called on the mobile No.
9763437648 of my mother in law and when enquired as to
whether they have reached at our farm house at Kavir Ali bag
or otherwise when my mother in law informed me that she
and my husband reached and as care taker aaji gone out she
will required to carry out all the work in the house. Today on
05.05.2018 at morning 9.30 am when I and my daughter
Adnya were at our house at Mumbai Shri Aruni Patil residing
at Dadar Hindu Colony, Mumbai called my daughter Adnya
on her mobile that my mother in law Kumud Naik expired.
Therefore I and my daughter Adnya sister Mrs. Manjusha
Durgesh Vaingankar, and her daughter Shreya Vaingankar
started coming to Alibag through our own vehicle. After we
reached at Wadkhal I called on mobile of friend of my
husband Shri Akshit Lakhani and enquired about my husband
when he informed that my husband Anvay Madhukar Naik
has also committed suicide . When we reached at our farm
house at Kavir at around 2.15 pm in afternoon there was
huge crowd of public and police were gathered. Therefore
when we went inside and saw that my mother in law Kumud
Naik was lying on bed near dining room. Thereafter from stair
case when we went on upper floor saw that my husband
Anvay Madhukar Naik was lying and one thread was hanged
on iron pipe of house. Thereafter police enquired with us and
informed us about the said incident. Thereafter only informed
that they were taking my husband Anvay Madhukar Naik and
mother in law Kumud Madhukar Naik to Civil Hospital Alibag.
When we were present in the said house police shown us
note written by my husband Anvay Madhukar Naik in his own
handwriting in English( suicide note). The handwriting in the
said note is his handwriting and the signature on it is also of
his only and l identify the same. In the said note he has
written in English as 3) Suicide Note, 4) we are committing
suicide due to following 5) our (Concorde designs Pvt Ltd) 6)
PART B
7
We both directors I) Mr. Anvay M. Naik 2) Kumud M. Naik, 7)
Money is stuck and following owners of respected companies
are not paying our legitimate dues 8) Mr. Amab Goswami
ARG Outlier of Republic TV, not paid 83 lacs for Bombay
Dyeing Studio project, 9) Feroz Shaikh Icaswt X / Skimedia
not paid our 400 lacs in Laxmi, 3rd and 4th floor idea Square
project in Andheri 10) Mr. Niteish Sarda owner of smart works
Magarpattaq and Baner Project ( 55 Lacs pending) 11) kindly
collect money from them and held them responsible for our
death and pay to creditors 12) I and my mother are directors
in Concorde India company and following persons have till
now not paid me money of work done by me. In which it is
written as Arnab Goswami ARV Outlife Of Republic TV
having Rs.83 Lac of work done, 2) Firoz Khan having 4 crores
of work done, 3) Nitesh Sarda 55 lacs of work done should be
deposited and should be held responsible for my death and
getting the same deposited and pay the dues of public. With
regard to the contents written in the said note my husband
Anvay Madhukar Naik had continuously informed me for last
one or two years. While he used to tell me he was under
immense pressure. Therefore I am having lawful complaint
against. Arnab Goswami, 2. Firoz Khan, 3. Nilesh Sarda the
persons whose names written in said suicide note by my
husband Anvay Madhukar Naik that the abovementioned
amount was due from them and even after continuously
demanding the said amount have not paid the said amount
and therefore my husband was under great pressure
therefore my husband Anvay Naik Age 53 years and my
mother in law Kumud Madhukar Naik died and the information
of such contents was registered and PI Shri Warade is
investigating the said offence.‖
The FIR records thus:
(i) The appellant (who owns the company ARG) had not paid an amount of
Rs. 83 lacs for the Bombay Dyeing Studio project. In addition, there was
an outstanding amount of Rs. 4 crores from Feroz Shaikh and Rs. 55 lacs
from Nitesh Sarda (who are the appellants in the connected Criminal
Appeals);
PART B
8
(ii) The spouse of the informant had not received payment for the work which
was carried out by him, as a result of which he was under mental pressure
and that he committed suicide by hanging on 5 May 2018;
(iii) There is a ‗suicide note‘ holding the above three individuals responsible;
and
(iv) The informant was informed on 5 May 2018, when she and her daughter
were at their residence at Mumbai, that her mother-in-law Kumud Naik had
died at their Alibaug residence. On the way to Alibaug, she was informed
that her husband had committed suicide. On reaching the house at
Alibaug, she found the body of her mother-in-law lying on a bed and that
her spouse had committed suicide by hanging.
8 On 6 May 2018, officers from the Alibaug Police Station visited ARG‘s
office in Mumbai and served three notices under Section 91 of the CrPC. On 7
and 8 May 2018, two representatives of ARG visited Alibaug Police Station where
they claim to have handed over the information which was sought by the police in
their notices under Section 91. On 22 May 2018, the appellant submitted a
representation to the notice under Section 91 following which on 30 May 2018
and 28 June 2018, the statements of the Chief Financial Officer and Company
Secretary of ARG were recorded.
9 On 16 April 2019, the SHO at Alibaug Police Station filed a report in the
Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (―CJM‖) for an ‗A‘ summary. The CJM
passed an order accepting the report and granted an ‗A‘ summary. The meaning
and import of an ‗A‘ summary is reflected in Para 219 (3) of the Bombay Police
Manual, 1959. An ‗A‘ Summary indicates a case where an offence has been
PART B
9
committed but it is undetected, in that there is no clue about the culprits or the
property, or where the accused is known but there is no evidence to justify their
being sent up to the Magistrate for trial. Para 219 (3) of the Bombay Police
Manual reads thus:
“RULE 219 (3) OF BOMBAY POLICE MANUAL
(3) The final report should be written up carefully by the
officers incharge of the Police Station personally and should
be accompanied by all the case papers numbered and
indexed methodically. If the accused has been released on
bail, the Magistrate should be requested to cancel the bail
bond. He should also be requested to pass orders regarding
the disposal of property attached, unless any of the articles,
e.g., blood stained clothes, are required for further use in true
but undetected cases. A request should also be made to the
Magistrate to classify the case and to issue an appropriate
summary of his order, viz:-
“A” True. undetected (where there is no clue whatsoever
about the culprits or property or where the accused in known
but there is no evidence to justify his being sent up to the
Magistrate (for trial).
“B” Maliciously false.
“C” Neither true nor false, e.g., due to mistake to fact or being
of a civil nature.
“Non-cognizable” Police investigation reveals commission of
only non-cognizable offence.”
10 Following the ‗A‘ summary, there was an exchange of correspondence
between ARG and the informant. ARG by their letter dated 11 June 2019,
addressed to CDPL, the informant and her daughter, indicated that several
meetings had been held in the past between them during the course of which
ARG had sought indemnities from CDPL against any future claims. In its letter,
ARG stated that it would be transferring a sum of Rs. 39.01 lacs into CDPL‘s last
known bank account against an indemnity for future claims by the creditors or
lenders of CDPL. In response, on 15 June 2019, the informant addressed a
PART C
10
communication to ARG stating that out of a total billed amount of Rs. 6.45 crores,
an amount of Rs. 5.75 crores had been received from ARG, and after adjustment
of an amount of Rs. 70.39 lacs towards deductions made from the bill, an amount
of Rs. 88.02 lacs was due and payable. On 6 November 2019, ARG addressed
another letter to the informant recording the closure of the police investigation
and reiterating its readiness to pay an amount of Rs.39.01 lacs subject to due
authorisation. The matter appears to have rested there until a flurry of
developments took place in the month of April 2020.
C Previous proceedings against the appellant
11 During the course of the present proceedings, the appellant has adverted
to proceedings initiated against him previously by the State of Maharashtra, in
order to support his case that the arrest is vitiated by malice in fact.
12 On 16 April 2020, a broadcast took place on Republic TV, followed by a
broadcast on Republic Bharat on 21 April 2020 in relation to an incident which
took place in Gadchinchle village of Palghar district in Maharashtra. During the
course of this incident on 16 April 2020, three persons, including two Sadhus,
were brutally killed by a mob, allegedly in the presence of the police and forest
guard personnel. According to the appellant, on his news show titled ―Poochta hai
Bharat‖ on 21 April 2020, he had raised issues in relation to the allegedly tardy
investigation of the incident by the police.
13 As this Court noticed in a judgment dated 19 May 2020, the broadcasts led
to the lodging of multiple FIRs and criminal complaints against the appellant in
PART C
11
the States of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh,
Telangana and Jharkhand as well as in the Union Territories of Jammu and
Kashmir. The content of the FIRs was similar, almost identical. In the State of
Maharashtra, an FIR was lodged at Police Station Sadar, District Nagpur City,
details of which were as follows:
“Maharashtra
FIR No. 238 of 2020, dated 22 April 2020, registered at Police
Station Sadar, District Nagpur City, Maharashtra, under
Sections 153, 153-A, 153-B,295-A, 298, 500, 504(2), 506,
120-B and 117 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.”
Apart from the above FIR, fourteen other FIRs and complaints were lodged
against the appellant in relation to his broadcasts.
14 The appellant moved this Court in proceedings under Article 32 of the
Constitution5
challenging the registration of these FIRs. By an interim order dated
24 April 2020, the FIR which had been lodged at Police Station Sadar, District
Nagpur City was transferred to NM Joshi Marg Police Station, Mumbai and was
renumbered as FIR 164 of 2020. Another FIR, FIR 137 of 2020, was registered
against the appellant on 2 May 2020 at the Pydhonie Police Station, Mumbai. FIR
137 of 2020 was filed against the appellant due to a telecast which took place on
29 April 2020 on the appellant‘s new channels, in which the appellant referred to
a gathering of migrant workers at the Bandra Railway station during the Covid-19
pandemic, and attempted to connect a place of religious worship with this

5 Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 130 of 2020
PART C
12
gathering. The appellant filed another petition under Article 32 of the
Constitution6
, challenging the registration of FIR 137 of 2020.
15 By its judgment dated 19 May 2020, this Court quashed all the FIRs,
except for the FIR which was transferred from Nagpur to Mumbai, on the ground
that successive FIRs/complaints in respect of the same cause could not be
maintained. The court granted liberty to the appellant to pursue such remedies as
were available in law before the competent forum for quashing FIR 164 of 2020.
16 By an order dated 30 June 2020, a Division Bench of the Bombay High
Court, while entertaining a petition under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution and
Section 482 of the CrPC, suspended all further proceedings in FIR 164 of 2020
before the NM Joshi Marg Police Station and FIR 137 of 2020 before the
Pydhonie Police Station and confirmed its interim order dated 6 June 2020
restraining the State from taking coercive steps against the appellant in relation to
the two FIRs, pending the disposal of the petition.
17 Aside from this incident, the appellant has relied on certain other
developments which have taken place thereafter. These are:
(i) The arrest on 9 September 2020 by the Maharashtra Police of two
employees of the appellant‘s news channel alleged to be pursuing an
investigative lead in Raigad, Maharashtra and the registration of FIR 142
of 2020 at Khalapur Police Station, Raigad under Sections 452, 448, 323,
504 and 506 read with Section 34 of the IPC;

6 Writ Petition (Crl.) Diary No. 1189 of 2020
PART C
13
(ii) The issuance of a letter by the ―Shiv Cable Sena‖ to cable operators
across Maharashtra asking them to ban the telecast of the appellant‘s
news channel;
(iii) An order of the Bombay High Court dated 11 September 2020 in a Writ
Petition under Article 226 holding that the letter of the Shiv Cable Sena did
not have the force of law and the appellant would be at liberty to pursue
the remedies available in law;
(iv) On 16 September 2020, a notice to show cause was issued to the
appellant for breach of privilege of the legislative assembly, which is the
subject of proceedings instituted in this court;
(v) A notice to show cause was issued under Section 108(1) of the CrPC to
the appellant by the Special Executive Magistrate, in spite of the order of
the Bombay High Court;
(vi) The registration of FIR 843 of 2020 on 6 October 2020 at Kandivali Police
Station (later transferred to the Crime Intelligence Unit, Mumbai) on a
complaint by an employee of Hansa Research Group Private Limited in
relation to the ‗TRP scam‘;
(vii) A press conference by the Commissioner of Police Mumbai on 8 October
2020 mentioning the name of the appellant as being allegedly involved in
the ‗TRP scam‘;
(viii) The appellant instituted a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution7
before this Court seeking reliefs in respect of FIR 843 of 2020. By an order

7 Writ Petition (Crl.) 312 of 2020
PART D
14
dated 15 October 2020, the Writ Petition was dismissed as withdrawn with
liberty to the appellant to approach the Bombay High Court; and
(ix) The appellant filed Writ Petition (Crl.) Stamp No. 3143 of 2020 before the
Bombay High Court, in which on 19 October 2020 an order was passed
calling upon the Investigating Officer to submit the investigation paper in a
sealed envelope on 4 November 2020. The High Court noted that the
appellant had as on date not been arrayed as an accused in the FIR and if
the investigating officer proposed to make an enquiry, a summons shall be
issued to him. The appellant agreed to cooperate in the enquiry.
D Re-opening of investigation and arrest of the appellant
18 On 26 May 2020, the Home Department of the State of Maharashtra
addressed a communication to Deputy Inspector General of Police stating that
the FIR registered as Crime No. 59 of 2020, at Alibaug Police Station under
Sections 306/34 of the IPC, was being transferred to the crime investigation
department ―for the purpose of reinvestigation‖. The letter, insofar as is material,
reads thus:
―In respect of the above mentioned subject, you are hereby
informed that crime no. 59/2020 registered at Alibaug Police
Station under Section 306/34 and Crime no. 114 of 2018
registered at Alibaug Police Station under Section 302 are
being transferred to Crime Investigation Department for the
purposes of reinvestigation. Hence, you are requested to
undertake the necessary steps for handing over the case for
reinvestigation and report in respect of investigation already
been made be submitted to the Government.‖
PART D
15
19 On 15 October 2020, the Local Crime Investigation Branch, Raigad
addressed a communication to the CJM, Alibaug recording the commencement
of further investigation under Section 173(8) of the CrPC in respect of Crime No.
59 of 2018 under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC.
20 On 4 November 2020, the appellant was arrested at about 7:45 am in
connection with FIR 59 of 2018 dated 5 May 2018. At 2:37 pm, the appellant filed
a Writ Petition before the Bombay High Court, invoking the provisions of Articles
226/227 of the Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC.
21 After the appellant‘s arrest, a remand application was filed before the CJM,
Raigad. By an order dated 4 November 2020, the CJM declined to grant police
custody. Noting that there had been an ‗A‘ summary previously, the CJM while
rejecting the plea of police custody, remanded the appellant to judicial custody till
18 November 2020. The State has challenged the order of the CJM declining
police custody in a revision before the Additional Sessions Judge, Raigad.
22 The writ petition filed by the appellant before the Bombay High Court was
heard on 5, 6 and 7 November 2020. On 7 November 2020, the High Court
reserved orders and granted liberty to the appellant to file an application for
regular bail under Section 439 of the CrPC with a direction that it should be heard
expeditiously within four days of the date of filing. Following the above direction,
the appellant moved the Sessions Court, Raigad for bail under Section 439 of the
CrPC. By its impugned judgment and order dated 9 November 2020, the High
Court posted the hearing of the petition filed by the appellant in regard to the
prayer of quashing of the FIR on 10 December 2020. While doing so, the High
PART E
16
Court denied bail to the appellant on the ground that no case has been made out
for the exercise of the extra-ordinary jurisdiction and that the appellant had an
alternate and efficacious remedy under Section 439 of the CrPC.
E Submissions of counsel
23 Assailing the order of the High Court denying bail to the appellant, Mr
Harish N Salve, learned Senior Counsel, submitted that:
(i) The arrest of the appellant is rooted in malice in fact, which is evident from
the manner in which the appellant as the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV
and R Bharat has been targeted for his news broadcasts criticizing the
Maharashtra government and the Maharashtra police;
(ii) Following the acceptance of the police report and the issuance of an ‗A‘
summary on 16 April 2019, the reinvestigation which has been ordered at
the behest of the Home Minister of the State of Maharashtra is ultra vires.
Further, in the absence of the specific permission of the CJM, it was not
open to the State to conduct a reinvestigation; and
(iii) The allegations contained in the FIR, read as they stand, do not establish
an offence under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC. To
constitute the offence of abetment there must exist:
i. A direct or indirect incitement to the commission of a crime;
ii. An active role of the accused in instigating or doing an act facilitating
the commission of the crime; and
iii. The existence of a proximate relationship in time.
PART E
17
In the present case, it was submitted that even if the allegations in the FIR are
accepted as they stand, no case of abetment is established. It has been
submitted that the company of the appellant (ARG) had entrusted a contract for
interior work to the deceased‘s company (CDPL). Further, it is not in dispute that
while an amount of Rs 5.45 crores has been paid, there was a commercial
dispute pending in regard to the remaining payment between the two companies.
The contents of the FIR also reveal that the deceased was suffering from mental
pressure. Furthermore, there is absolutely no allegation that the appellant had
either instigated or committed any act to facilitate the commission of the crime.
24 Mr Salve further submitted that the judgment of this Court in Habib Jeelani
(supra) has been wrongly interpreted by the High Court. It has been submitted
that it was in pursuance of the liberty that was granted by the High Court, that an
application for bail under Section 439 of the CrPC was filed. However, even on 9
November 2020, the Public Prosecutor has filed a note before the Sessions
Judge that the revision application filed by the State against the order of the CJM
should be heard first and it is only thereafter that the application for bail should be
taken up. On the basis of the above submissions, it has been urged that the
appellant has been made a target of the vendetta of the State government, which
emerges from the successive events adverted to above which have taken place
since April 2020. Hence, it has been urged that there is absolutely no ground to
continue the arrest of the appellant and absent any reasonable basis for
depriving him of his liberty, an order for the grant of bail should have been
passed by the High Court. Mr. Salve finally submitted that the interest in
preserving the procedural hierarchy of courts must give way to the need to
PART E
18
protect the appellant‘s personal liberty given the well settled legal position that
the default rule is ‗bail, not jail‘.
25 Opposing the above submissions, Mr Amit Desai, learned Senior Counsel
appearing on behalf of the second respondent submits that:
(i) The High Court has advisably not enquired into whether:
i. The investigation is tainted by mala fides; and
ii. The contents of the FIR as they stand make out an offence within the
meaning of Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC;
(ii) The High Court declined to express a prima facie view on the issue of mala
fides since an opportunity was being granted to the State to file its counter.
Similarly, the issue as to whether the FIR is liable to be quashed would be
taken up at the final hearing on 10 December 2020 and hence the High
Court has correctly refrained from expressing a prima facie view;
(iii) Between 15 October 2020 and 4 November 2020, a further investigation
has been carried out and statements have been recorded under Section
164 of the CrPC;
(iv) In accordance with this Court‘s judgment in the case of Praveen Pradhan
vs State of Uttaranchal and Ors.8
(―Praveen Pradhan‖), instigation to
commit suicide has to be gathered from the circumstances of a particular
case. Hence, while there may not be direct evidence in regard to
instigation which may have direct nexus to suicide, an inference has to be
drawn from the circumstances to determine whether they were of a nature
which created a situation in which a person felt totally frustrated and ended

8
(2012) 9 SCC 734
PART E
19
up committing suicide. Further, while making a determination as to the
quashing of proceedings, the Court has to form only a tentative opinion
and not a firm view;
(v) A hierarchy of courts is provided for to consider an application for bail
under Section 439 of the CrPC. In the present case, there is no valid basis
to by-pass that hierarchy in order to grant relief to the appellant;
(vi) An application for bail was initially filed on behalf of the appellant which
was withdrawn after the order for judicial custody was passed. An
application for bail has been filed after the High Court while reserving
judgment granted liberty to do so with a direction for its disposal within four
days. Hence, it is appropriate that the appellant is relegated to pursue the
remedies under Section 439;
(vii) Prayer (a) in the Writ Petition for the grant of a writ of Habeas Corpus was
not maintainable in view of the fact that the appellant had been arrested
and committed to judicial custody, and the interim application for his
release on bail was only in the context of the prayer for Habeas Corpus;
(viii) During the course of the hearing of the proceedings before the Bombay
High Court, the Division Bench indicated that if the appellant were to file an
application under Section 439, appropriate administrative directions of the
Chief Justice could be obtained for listing it before the Division Bench
since applications for bail are placed for hearing before a Single Judge
(while the petition was before a Division Bench) and the appellant had only
filed an interim application in the pending Writ Petition for being released
on bail;
PART E
20
(ix) Both the issue of whether the appellant has made out a case for quashing
the FIR and whether a reinvestigation could have been ordered at the
Home Department of the State would be considered by the High Court on
10 December 2020;
(x) The High Court has drawn a balance between the rights of the accused
and the family of the deceased victim. A substantive Writ Petition has been
filed by the informant, stating that it was only through a tweet on the social
media that she had learned of the ‗A‘ summary and that she had not been
heard before the order was passed by the Magistrate accepting the police
report;
(xi) Even when ‗A‘ Summary has been accepted in terms of Para 219(3) of the
Bombay Police Manual, there is no restraint on a further investigation
being carried out by the Investigating Officer under Section 173(8) of the
CrPC. An ‗A‘ summary postulates that there was no completed
investigation. Hence, requiring prior judicial sanction as a precondition for
conducting further investigation after the filing of an ‗A‘ summary will
impede the ability of investigating authorities to effectively perform their
role. Such a course of action is also permissible in view of the decision of
this Court in Vinubhai Haribhai Malaviya vs State of Gujarat9
; and
(xii) The High Court was justified in coming to the conclusion that there was
nothing extraordinary in the facts of the present case to shock the
conscience of the Court so as to take recourse to its extraordinary
jurisdiction under Article 226 to direct the release of the appellant on

9
2019 SCC OnLine SC 1346
PART E
21
interim bail. Any other view would lead to the jurisdiction of the High Court
under Article 226 being extended to grant the remedy of an application for
bail, which is already available under Section 439 of the CrPC.
26 In the same vein as the submissions which have been urged on behalf of
the second respondent by Mr Amit Desai, Mr Kapil Sibal, learned Senior Counsel
appearing on behalf of the first respondent, has submitted that the High Court
has been justified in coming to the conclusion that there was no warrant to
interfere in the course of the investigation in the present case. Mr Sibal also
argued that Mr Salve has wrongly focused on other cases implicating the
appellant in the course of his arguments. Learned Senior Counsel has urged that
the appellant must pursue his remedy in accordance with law under Section 439
of the CrPC for which the liberty has been granted by the High Court. Further, Mr
Sibal submitted that an ‗A‘ summary is in fact not a closure report and
investigation does not stand concluded. Hence, he submitted that the
Investigating Officer was within jurisdiction in carrying out further investigation.
Finally, Mr Sibal argued that while he is alive to the fact that the personal liberty
of the appellant is at stake in the present case, this Court does refuse to interfere
in many cases exhibiting similar features. Therefore, he argued that this Court
should stay its hand in the present case.
27 Mr CU Singh, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the fifth
respondent, the informant, has joined the submissions of the first and second
respondents in opposing these appeals. It was submitted that:
PART E
22
(i) After the order of judicial remand on 4 November 2020, an application for
bail was filed on behalf of the appellant and withdrawn;
(ii) On 7 November 2020, the Sessions Court issued a notice on the revision
application filed by the State against the order declining to grant remand to
police custody;
(iii) On 7 November 2020, the High Court posted the proceedings for
pronouncement of judgment on 9 November 2020 and granted liberty to
the appellant to file an application for bail. Thereafter, an application for
bail was filed on 8 November 2020 by the appellant. A Special Leave
Petition was filed in this Court thereafter. The High Court has correctly
declined to enquire into the plea for quashing the FIR and the alleged mala
fides on the ground that counters are still to be filed; and
(iv) On 15 October 2020, the Crime Detection Unit intimated the CJM that it
was commencing further investigation on which the CJM has made an
endorsement that it had been ―noted and filed‖. Statements were recorded
under Section 164 of the CrPC. Section 173(8) of the CrPC confers a
broad power of further investigation on the Investigating Officer. Having
regard to the context of an ‗A‘ summary, this power has been legitimately
exercised in the present case. The exercise of the power of further
investigation under Section 173(8) of the CrPC would not require judicial
sanction.
28 Together with the present Civil Appeal, this Court has also heard
submissions in two companion Civil Appeals. In the two companion appeals,
PART F
23
submissions have been made before this Court by Mr Gopal Sankaranarayanan
and Mr Mukul Rohatgi, learned Senior Counsel.
F Criminal Appeal No. 743 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5599 of 2020)
29 Mr Gopal Sankaranarayanan, learned Senior Counsel, submitted that the
appeal has been filed by the sister of Mr Feroz Shaikh who has been named as
an accused.
30 Mr Feroz Shaikh is a Director in iCastX Technologies Private Limited. In
2016, iCastX Technologies hired the services of M/s Atos India Private Limited
for the work of construction, renovation and refurbishing of their office premises
at Andheri East, Mumbai. Atos India Private Limited in turn sub-contracted the
work to CDPL. Hence, it has been submitted that there was privity of relationship
between iCastX Technologies and CDPL. Mr Sankaranarayanan submitted that
the three appellants represent the interest of three distinct individuals connected
with three different companies.
31 Mr Sankaranarayanan has supported the submissions on the essential
requirements of Section 107 of the IPC by relying on the decisions in Madan
Mohan Singh vs State of Gujarat10
, Sunil Bharti Mittal vs Central Bureau of
Investigation11 and Common Cause vs Union of India12 (―Common Cause‖).
Mr. Sankaranarayanan further argued that there was no reference about his
client in the FIR filed on 5 May 2018 at the behest of the informant. Finally, he
relied on this Court‘s judgment in Vineet Narain and Ors. vs Union of India and

10 (2010) 8 SCC 628
11 (2015) 4 SCC 609
12 (2018) 5 SCC 1
PART G
24
Ors.
13 to urge that executive interference in the course of an investigation or
prosecution is impermissible.
G Criminal Appeal No. 744 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 5600 of 2020)
32 Mr Mukul Rohatgi, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellant, submitted that admittedly all the three accused named in the FIR are
unconnected. The appellant is a Director in a private limited company by the
name of SmartWork Business Centre Private Limited with less than one per cent
of the shareholding standing in his own name.
33 The company which has offices in New Delhi and Kolkata had engaged the
services of several vendors/contractors in order to furnish their business centre at
Pune, one of whom was CDPL and a purchase order of Rs 4.17 crores was
issued. Thereafter, there were substantial delays and discrepancies in the
execution of the work by CDPL which led to an exchange of mails. Furthermore,
an invoice of over Rs 5 crores was raised including an amount of Rs 83.02 lacs
towards GST. Pursuant to this, a payment of Rs 4.40 crores was made but there
was a genuine commercial dispute between the two companies in relation to the
remaining amount.
34 It has been submitted that on the face of it, there is no basis in the FIR to
even remotely implicate the appellant in the alleged offences under Section 306
read with Section 34 of the IPC. There is not even an indication of a personal

13 (1998) 1 SCC 226
PART G
25
interaction or connection between the appellant and the deceased. Furthermore,
a civil suit regarding the disputed debt between their companies is pending.
35 The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court under Articles 226/227
of the Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC is in support of two distinct
reliefs. The first relief is for a writ of habeas corpus. This relief has been claimed
on the basis that the arrest and consequent detention of the appellant was due to
a reinvestigation which was commenced after placing reliance on the letter dated
26 May 2020 of the Home Department of the Government of Maharashtra to the
Director General of Police. The submission is that once the CJM accepted the
report submitted by the Investigating Officer and issued an ‗A‘ summary on 16
April 2019, it was not open to the Investigating Officer to commence a
reinvestigation without judicial sanction.
36 Joining issue with this submission is the argument of the State that the
power of the investigating officer to order a further investigation under Section
173(8) of the CrPC is independent of the jurisdiction of the Magistrate. In the view
of the State, Section 4 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 entrusts the
superintendence of the police force to it and in the exercise of that power, it was
legitimately open to the Home Department to direct a further investigation (though
the letter uses the expression ‗re-investigation‘) to be conducted based on the
complaint of the victim that the offence had not been properly investigated.
Moreover, the State has relied on the provisions of Section 36 of the CrPC under
which police officers superior in rank to an officer in charge of a police station are
entitled to exercise the same powers throughout the local area to which they are
appointed.
PART G
26
37 According to the appellant, when proceedings before the High Court came
to be instituted, an order of remand had not been passed and it was only
subsequently on the night of 4 November 2020 that an order granting judicial
custody was passed by the CJM. Be that as it may, the High Court has recorded
that prayer (a) for the issuance of a writ of Habeas Corpus was not pressed on
behalf of the appellant. Once the prayer for a writ of habeas corpus was not
pressed (as the High Court records), it was unnecessary for the High Court to
devote several pages in the impugned judgment on discussing the issue.
38 The remaining prayer before the High Court was for quashing the FIR. Mr
Rohatgi submitted that the order of arrest is illegal and the appellant is entitled to
have it so declared by invoking the jurisdiction under Article 226 of the
Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC. It was urged that the power under
Section 173(8) is to cause a ―further investigation‖ and no power has been vested
to either reinvestigate or cause a fresh investigation to be made. The power to
reinvestigate or to cause fresh investigation, it was urged, is vested only in the
constitutional courts. Contrary to the provisions of Section 173(8), it was urged,
the Home Department in its letter to the deputy Inspector General has directed a
reinvestigation. In the present case, the communication of the Home Department
makes it abundantly clear that a reinvestigation was ordered under the authority
of the State Home Minister which, according to the submission, is ultra vires the
provisions of law. Mr Rohatgi has emphasised that the application for remand
makes it clear that what is ordered was a reinvestigation, since the application
has repeatedly used the expression ―comprehensive reinvestigation‖ and the fact
that ―reinvestigation has become necessary‖.
PART H
27
39 Finally, it was urged that the order of the Home Minister in the State was
issued on 26 May 2020 whereas the investigation commenced on 15 October
2020 and the arrest was made on 4 November 2020 in respect of an FIR lodged
in May 2018 on which an ‗A‘ summary had been accepted on 16 April 2019. In
sum and substance, it has been submitted that after the order of closure on 16
April 2019, a reinvestigation could not have been ordered in the case. The arrest
has been termed unlawful.
H Jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 and Section 482 CrPC
40 While considering the rival submissions, it is essential for the purpose of
the present appeals to elucidate on the nature of the jurisdiction that is vested in
the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC.
This issue must be analysed from the perspective of the position that the
proceeding before the High Court, after the prayer for the grant of a writ of
Habeas Corpus was given up, is for quashing the FIR being CR No. 0059 of 2018
lodged on 5 May 2018.
41 The High Court has dwelt at length on the decision of this Court in Habib
Jeelani (supra). The High Court observed that the powers to quash ―are to be
exercised sparingly and that too, in rare and appropriate cases and in extreme
circumstances to prevent abuse of process of law‖. Applying this principle, the
High Court opined:
―45. The principle stated therein will equally apply to the
exercise of this Court’s power under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India and section 482 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure while considering the applications for bail since the
PART H
28
petitioner is already in Judicial custody. The legislature has
provided specific remedy under Section 439 Cr.P.C. for
applying for regular bail. Having regard to the alternate and
efficacious remedy available to the petitioner under section
439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, this Court has to
exercise judicial restraint while entertaining application in the
nature of seeking regular bail in a petition filed under Article
226 of the Constitution of India read with section 482 of Code
of Criminal Procedure.‖
On the basis of the above foundation, the High Court has declined to even prima
facie enquire into whether the allegations contained in the FIR, read as they
stand, attract the provisions of Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC. In its
view, since the petition was being posted for hearing on 10 December 2020, it
was not inclined to enquire into this aspect of the case and the appellant would
be at liberty to apply for regular bail under Section 439.
42 Now, it is in this background that it becomes necessary for this Court to
evaluate what, as a matter of principle, is the true import of the decision of this
Court in Habib Jeelani (supra). This was a case where, on the basis of a report
under Section 154 off the CrPC, an FIR was registered for offences punishable
under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 307 of the IPC. Challenging the initiation of the
criminal action, the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court to quash an FIR was
invoked. The High Court (as paragraph 2 of the judgment of this Court in Habib
Jeelani (supra) indicates) expressed its ―disinclination to interfere on the ground
that it was not appropriate to stay the investigation of the case‖. It was in this
background that the following issue was formulated in the first paragraph of the
judgment of this Court, speaking through Justice Dipak Misra (as he then was),
for consideration:
PART H
29
―1. The seminal issue that arises for consideration in this
appeal, by special leave, is whether the High Court while
refusing to exercise inherent powers under Section 482 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to interfere in an
application for quashment of the investigation, can restrain the
investigating agency not to arrest the accused persons during
the course of investigation.‖
Between paragraphs 11 and 15, this Court then evaluated the nature of the
jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC or under Article 226 of the Constitution
for quashing an FIR and observed:
―11. Once an FIR is registered, the accused persons can
always approach the High Court under Section 482 CrPC or
under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing of the FIR.
In Bhajan Lal [State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1)
SCC 335 : 1992 SCC (Cri) 426 : AIR 1992 SC 604] the twoJudge Bench after referring to Hazari Lal Gupta v. Rameshwar
Prasad [Hazari Lal Gupta v. Rameshwar Prasad, (1972) 1
SCC 452 : 1972 SCC (Cri) 208] , Jehan Singh v. Delhi
Admn. [Jehan Singh v. Delhi Admn., (1974) 4 SCC 522 : 1974
SCC (Cri) 558 : AIR 1974 SC 1146] , Amar Nath v. State of
Haryana [Amar Nath v. State of Haryana, (1977) 4 SCC 137 :
1977 SCC (Cri) 585] , Kurukshetra University v. State of
Haryana [Kurukshetra University v. State of Haryana, (1977) 4
SCC 451 : 1977 SCC (Cri) 613] , State of Bihar v. J.A.C.
Saldanha [State of Bihar v. J.A.C. Saldanha, (1980) 1 SCC
554 : 1980 SCC (Cri) 272 : AIR 1980 SC 326] , State of
W.B. v. Swapan Kumar Guha [State of W.B. v. Swapan Kumar
Guha, (1982) 1 SCC 561 : 1982 SCC (Cri) 283 : AIR 1982 SC
949] , Nagawwa v. Veeranna Shivalingappa
Konjalgi [Nagawwa v. Veeranna Shivalingappa Konjalgi,
(1976) 3 SCC 736 : 1976 SCC (Cri) 507 : AIR 1976 SC 1947]
, Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhajirao Chandrojirao
Angre [Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhajirao
Chandrojirao Angre, (1988) 1 SCC 692 : 1988 SCC (Cri) 234]
, State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Khan [State of Bihar v. Murad Ali
Khan, (1988) 4 SCC 655 : 1989 SCC (Cri) 27 : AIR 1989 SC 1]
and some other authorities that had dealt with the contours of
exercise of inherent powers of the High Court, thought it
appropriate to mention certain category of cases by way of
illustration wherein the extraordinary power under Article 226
of the Constitution or inherent power under Section 482 CrPC
could be exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of
any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. The Court
PART H
30
also observed that it may not be possible to lay down any
precise, clearly defined and sufficiently channelised and
inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive
list of myriad cases wherein such power should be exercised.
12. The illustrations given by the Court need to be
recapitulated: (Bhajan Lal case [State of Haryana v. Bhajan
Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335 : 1992 SCC (Cri) 426 : AIR 1992
SC 604] , SCC pp. 378-79, para 102)
―(1) Where the allegations made in the first information report
or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and
accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any
offence or make out a case against the accused.
(2) Where the allegations in the first information report and
other materials, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose
a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police
officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an
order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of
the Code.
(3) Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or
complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same
do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a
case against the accused.
(4) Where, the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a
cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable
offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without
an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2)
of the Code.
(5) Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so
absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no
prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is
sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
(6) Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the
provisions of the Code or the Act concerned (under which a
criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and
continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a
specific provision in the Code or the Act concerned, providing
efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
(7) Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with
mala fides and/or where the proceeding is maliciously
instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on
the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and
personal grudge.‖
It is worthy to note that the Court has clarified that the said
parameters or guidelines are not exhaustive but only
illustrative. Nevertheless, it throws light on the circumstances
and situations where the Court’s inherent power can be
exercised.
PART H
31
13. There can be no dispute over the proposition that inherent
power in a matter of quashment of FIR has to be exercised
sparingly and with caution and when and only when such
exercise is justified by the test specifically laid down in the
provision itself. There is no denial of the fact that the power
under Section 482 CrPC is very wide but it needs no special
emphasis to state that conferment of wide power requires the
Court to be more cautious. It casts an onerous and more
diligent duty on the Court.
14. In this regard, it would be seemly to reproduce a passage
from Kurukshetra University [Kurukshetra University v. State of
Haryana, (1977) 4 SCC 451 : 1977 SCC (Cri) 613] wherein
Chandrachud, J. (as his Lordship then was) opined thus: (SCC
p. 451, para 2)
―2. It surprises us in the extreme that the High Court thought
that in the exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure, it could quash a first
information report. The police had not even commenced
investigation into the complaint filed by the Warden of the
University and no proceeding at all was pending in any court in
pursuance of the FIR. It ought to be realised that inherent
powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the High Court
to act according to whim or caprice. That statutory power has
to be exercised sparingly, with circumspection and in the rarest
of rare cases.‖
15. We have referred to the said decisions only to stress upon
the issue, how the exercise of jurisdiction by the High Court in
a proceeding relating to quashment of FIR can be justified. We
repeat even at the cost of repetition that the said power has to
be exercised in a very sparing manner and is not to be used to
choke or smother the prosecution that is legitimate. The
surprise that was expressed almost four decades ago
in Kurukshetra University case [Kurukshetra University v. State
of Haryana, (1977) 4 SCC 451 : 1977 SCC (Cri) 613] compels
us to observe that we are also surprised by the impugned
order.‖
43 Thereafter, this Court noted that ―the High Court has not referred to
allegations made in the FIR or what has come out in the investigation‖. While on
the one hand, the High Court declined in exercising its jurisdiction under Section
482 to quash the proceedings, it nonetheless directed the police not to arrest the
appellants during the pendency of the investigation. It was in this context that this
PART H
32
Court observed that the High Court had, while dismissing the applications under
Section 482, passed orders that if the accused surrenders before the trial
Magistrate, he shall be admitted to bail on such terms and conditions as it was
deemed fit and appropriate. After adverting to the earlier decision in Hema
Mishra vs State of UP14, this Court observed:
―23. We have referred to the authority in Hema Mishra [Hema
Mishra v. State of U.P., (2014) 4 SCC 453 : (2014) 2 SCC
(Cri) 363] as that specifically deals with the case that came
from the State of Uttar Pradesh where Section 438 CrPC has
been deleted. It has concurred with the view expressed in Lal
Kamlendra Pratap Singh [Lal Kamlendra Pratap
Singh v. State of U.P., (2009) 4 SCC 437 : (2009) 2 SCC (Cri)
330] . The said decision, needless to say, has to be read in
the context of the State of Uttar Pradesh. We do not intend to
elaborate the said principle as that is not necessary in this
case. What needs to be stated here is that the States where
Section 438 CrPC has not been deleted and kept on the
statute book, the High Court should be well advised that while
entertaining petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution or
Section 482 CrPC, it exercises judicial restraint. We may
hasten to clarify that the Court, if it thinks fit, regard being had
to the parameters of quashing and the self-restraint imposed
by law, has the jurisdiction to quash the investigation and may
pass appropriate interim orders as thought apposite in law,
but it is absolutely inconceivable and unthinkable to pass an
order of the present nature while declining to interfere or
expressing opinion that it is not appropriate to stay the
investigation. This kind of order is really inappropriate and
unseemly. It has no sanction in law. The courts should oust
and obstruct unscrupulous litigants from invoking the inherent
jurisdiction of the Court on the drop of a hat to file an
application for quashing of launching an FIR or investigation
and then seek relief by an interim order. It is the obligation of
the Court to keep such unprincipled and unethical litigants at
bay.‖
44 The above decision thus arose in a situation where the High Court had
declined to entertain a petition for quashing an FIR under Section 482 of the

14 (2014) 4 SCC 453
PART I
33
CrPC. However, it nonetheless directed the investigating agency not to arrest the
accused during the pendency of the investigation. This was held to be
impermissible by this Court. On the other hand, this Court clarified that the High
Court if it thinks fit, having regard to the parameters for quashing and the selfrestraint imposed by law, has the jurisdiction to quash the investigation ―and may
pass appropriate interim orders as thought apposite in law‖. Clearly therefore, the
High Court in the present case has misdirected itself in declining to enquire prima
facie on a petition for quashing whether the parameters in the exercise of that
jurisdiction have been duly established and if so whether a case for the grant of
interim bail has been made out. The settled principles which have been
consistently reiterated since the judgment of this Court in State of Haryana vs
Bhajan Lal15 (―Bhajan Lal‖) include a situation where the allegations made in the
FIR or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in
their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case
against the accused. This legal position was recently reiterated in a decision by a
two-judge Bench of this Court in Kamal Shivaji Pokarnekar vs State of
Maharashtra16
.
I Prima Facie evaluation of the FIR and the grant of bail
45 The striking aspect of the impugned judgment of the High Court spanning
over fifty-six pages is the absence of any evaluation even prima facie of the most
basic issue. The High Court, in other words, failed to apply its mind to a

15 1992 Supp. 1 SCC 335
16 (2019) 14 SCC 350
PART I
34
fundamental issue which needed to be considered while dealing with a petition
for quashing under Article 226 of the Constitution or Section 482 of the CrPC.
The High Court, by its judgment dated 9 November 2020, has instead allowed the
petition for quashing to stand over for hearing a month later, and therefore
declined to allow the appellant‘s prayer for interim bail and relegated him to the
remedy under Section 439 of the CrPC. In the meantime, liberty has been the
casualty. The High Court having failed to evaluate prima facie whether the
allegations in the FIR, taken as they stand, bring the case within the fold of
Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC, this Court is now called upon to
perform the task.
46 Before we evaluate the contents of the FIR, a reference to Section 306 of
the IPC is necessary. Section 306 stipulates that if a person commits suicide
―whoever abets the commission of such suicide‖ shall be punished with
imprisonment extending up to 10 years17
. Section 107 is comprised within
Chapter V of the IPC, which is titled ―Of Abetment‖. Section 107 provides:
―107. Abetment of a thing.—A person abets the doing of a
thing, who— First.—Instigates any person to do that thing; or
Secondly.—Engages with one or more other person or
persons in any conspiracy for the doing of that thing, if an act
or illegal omission takes place in pursuance of that
conspiracy, and in order to the doing of that thing; or
Thirdly.—Intentionally aids, by any act or illegal omission, the
doing of that thing.
Explanation 1.—A person who, by willful misrepresentation,
or by willful concealment of a material fact which he is bound
to disclose, voluntarily causes or procures, or attempts to

17 306. Abetment of suicide.—If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide,
shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also
be liable to fine.
PART I
35
cause or procure, a thing to be done, is said to instigate the
doing of that thing.
Illustration A, a public officer, is authorised by a warrant from
a Court of Justice to apprehend Z, B, knowing that fact and
also that C is not Z, willfully represents to A that C is Z, and
thereby intentionally causes A to apprehend C. Here B abets
by instigation the apprehension of C.
Explanation 2.—Whoever, either prior to or at the time of the
commission of an act, does anything in order to facilitate the
commission of that act, and thereby facilitates the
commission thereof, is said to aid the doing of that act.‖
47 The first segment of Section 107 defines abetment as the instigation of a
person to do a particular thing. The second segment defines it with reference to
engaging in a conspiracy with one or more other persons for the doing of a thing,
and an act or illegal omission in pursuance of the conspiracy. Under the third
segment, abetment is founded on intentionally aiding the doing of a thing either
by an act or omission. These provisions have been construed specifically in the
context of Section 306 to which a reference is necessary in order to furnish the
legal foundation for assessing the contents of the FIR. These provisions have
been construed in the earlier judgements of this Court in State of West Bengal
vs Orilal Jaiswal18
, Randhir Singh vs State of Punjab19
, Kishori Lal vs State
of MP20 (―Kishori Lal‖) and Kishangiri Mangalgiri Goswami vs State of
Gujarat21
. In Amalendu Pal vs State of West Bengal22
, Justice Mukundakam
Sharma, speaking for a two judge Bench of this Court and having adverted to the
earlier decisions, observed:

18 (1994) 1 SCC 73
19 (2004) 13 SCC 129
20 (2007) 10 SCC 797
21 (2009) 4 SCC 52
22 (2010) 1 SCC 707
PART I
36
―12…It is also to be borne in mind that in cases of alleged
abetment of suicide there must be proof of direct or indirect
acts of incitement to the commission of suicide. Merely on the
allegation of harassment without there being any positive
action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the
accused which led or compelled the person to commit suicide,
conviction in terms of Section 306 IPC is not sustainable.‖
The Court noted that before a person may be said to have abetted the
commission of suicide, they ―must have played an active role by an act of
instigation or by doing certain act to facilitate the commission of suicide‖.
Instigation, as this Court held in Kishori Lal (supra), ―literally means to provoke,
incite, urge on or bring about by persuasion to do anything‖. In S S Chheena vs
Vijay Kumar Mahajan23
, a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through
Justice Dalveer Bhandari, observed:
―25. Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a
person or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing.
Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate
or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained.
The intention of the legislature and the ratio of the cases
decided by this Court is clear that in order to convict a person
under Section 306 IPC there has to be a clear mens rea to
commit the offence. It also requires an active act or direct act
which led the deceased to commit suicide seeing no option
and that act must have been intended to push the deceased
into such a position that he committed suicide.‖
48 Madan Mohan Singh vs State of Gujarat24 was specifically a case which
arose in the context of a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC where the High
Court had dismissed the petition for quashing an FIR registered for offences
under Sections 306 and 294(B) of the IPC. In that case, the FIR was registered
on a complaint of the spouse of the deceased who was working as a driver with

23 (2010) 12 SCC 190
24 (2010) 8 SCC 628
PART I
37
the accused. The driver had been rebuked by the employer and was later found
to be dead on having committed suicide. A suicide note was relied upon in the
FIR, the contents of which indicated that the driver had not been given a fixed
vehicle unlike other drivers besides which he had other complaints including the
deduction of 15 days‘ wages from his salary. The suicide note named the
accused–appellant. In the decision of a two judge Bench of this Court, delivered
by Justice V S Sirpurkar, the test laid down in Bhajan Lal (supra) was applied
and the Court held:
―10. We are convinced that there is absolutely nothing in this
suicide note or the FIR which would even distantly be viewed
as an offence much less under Section 306 IPC. We could
not find anything in the FIR or in the so-called suicide note
which could be suggested as abetment to commit suicide. In
such matters there must be an allegation that the accused
had instigated the deceased to commit suicide or secondly,
had engaged with some other person in a conspiracy and
lastly, that the accused had in any way aided any act or illegal
omission to bring about the suicide.
11. In spite of our best efforts and microscopic examination of
the suicide note and the FIR, all that we find is that the
suicide note is a rhetoric document in the nature of a
departmental complaint. It also suggests some mental
imbalance on the part of the deceased which he himself
describes as depression. In the so-called suicide note, it
cannot be said that the accused ever intended that the driver
under him should commit suicide or should end his life and
did anything in that behalf. Even if it is accepted that the
accused changed the duty of the driver or that the accused
asked him not to take the keys of the car and to keep the
keys of the car in the office itself, it does not mean that the
accused intended or knew that the driver should commit
suicide because of this.‖
Dealing with the provisions of Section 306 of the IPC and the meaning of
abetment within the meaning of Section 107, the Court observed:
PART I
38
―12. In order to bring out an offence under Section 306 IPC
specific abetment as contemplated by Section 107 IPC on the
part of the accused with an intention to bring about the
suicide of the person concerned as a result of that abetment
is required. The intention of the accused to aid or to instigate
or to abet the deceased to commit suicide is a must for this
particular offence under Section 306 IPC. We are of the clear
opinion that there is no question of there being any material
for offence under Section 306 IPC either in the FIR or in the
so-called suicide note.‖
The Court noted that the suicide note expressed a state of anguish of the
deceased and ―cannot be depicted as expressing anything intentional on the part
of the accused that the deceased might commit suicide‖. Reversing the
judgement of the High Court, the petition under Section 482 was allowed and the
FIR was quashed.
49 In a concurring judgment delivered by one of us (Dhananjaya Y
Chandrachud J) in the decision of the Constitution Bench in Common Cause
(supra), the provisions of Section 107 were explained with the following
observations:
―458. For abetting an offence, the person abetting must have
intentionally aided the commission of the crime. Abetment
requires an instigation to commit or intentionally aiding the
commission of a crime. It presupposes a course of conduct or
action which (in the context of the present discussion)
facilitates another to end life. Hence abetment of suicide is an
offence expressly punishable under Sections 305 and 306
IPC.‖
50 More recently in M Arjunan vs State (represented by its Inspector of
Police)25
, a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice R.

25 (2019) 3 SCC 315
PART I
39
Banumathi, elucidated the essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306
of the IPC in the following observations:
―7. The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306
IPC are: (i) the abetment; (ii) the intention of the accused to
aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide. The
act of the accused, however, insulting the deceased by using
abusive language will not, by itself, constitute the abetment of
suicide. There should be evidence capable of suggesting that
the accused intended by such act to instigate the deceased to
commit suicide. Unless the ingredients of instigation/abetment
to commit suicide are satisfied the accused cannot be
convicted under Section 306 IPC.‖
51 Similarly, in another recent judgment of this Court in Ude Singh and Ors.
vs State of Haryana26
, a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice
Dinesh Maheshwari, expounded on the ingredients of Section 306 of the IPC,
and the factors to be considered in determining whether a case falls within the
ken of the aforesaid provision, in the following terms:
―38. In cases of alleged abetment of suicide, there must be a
proof of direct or indirect act/s of incitement to the
commission of suicide. It could hardly be disputed that the
question of cause of a suicide, particularly in the context of an
offence of abetment of suicide, remains a vexed one,
involving multifaceted and complex attributes of human
behaviour and responses/reactions. In the case of accusation
for abetment of suicide, the Court would be looking for cogent
and convincing proof of the act/s of incitement to the
commission of suicide. In the case of suicide, mere allegation
of harassment of the deceased by another person would not
suffice unless there be such action on the part of the accused
which compels the person to commit suicide; and such an
offending action ought to be proximate to the time of
occurrence. Whether a person has abetted in the commission
of suicide by another or not, could only be gathered from the
facts and circumstances of each case.
39. For the purpose of finding out if a person has abetted
commission of suicide by another, the consideration would be

26 Criminal Appeal No. 233 of 2010 decided on 25 July 2019
PART I
40
if the accused is guilty of the act of instigation of the act of
suicide. As explained and reiterated by this Court in the
decisions above-referred, instigation means to goad, urge
forward, provoke, incite or encourage to do an act. If the
persons who committed suicide had been hypersensitive and
the action of accused is otherwise not ordinarily expected to
induce a similarly circumstanced person to commit suicide, it
may not be safe to hold the accused guilty of abetment of
suicide. But, on the other hand, if the accused by his acts and
by his continuous course of conduct creates a situation which
leads the deceased perceiving no other option except to
commit suicide, the case may fall within the four-corners of
Section 306 IPC. If the accused plays an active role in
tarnishing the self-esteem and self-respect of the victim,
which eventually draws the victim to commit suicide, the
accused may be held guilty of abetment of suicide. The
question of mens rea on the part of the accused in such
cases would be examined with reference to the actual acts
and deeds of the accused and if the acts and deeds are only
of such nature where the accused intended nothing more
than harassment or snap show of anger, a particular case
may fall short of the offence of abetment of suicide. However,
if the accused kept on irritating or annoying the deceased by
words or deeds until the deceased reacted or was provoked,
a particular case may be that of abetment of suicide. Such
being the matter of delicate analysis of human behaviour,
each case is required to be examined on its own facts, while
taking note of all the surrounding factors having bearing on
the actions and psyche of the accused and the deceased.‖
Similarly, in Rajesh vs State of Haryana27, a two judge Bench of this Court,
speaking through Justice L. Nageswara Rao, held as follows:
―9. Conviction under Section 306 IPC is not sustainable on
the allegation of harassment without there being any positive
action proximate to the time of occurrence on the part of the
accused, which led or compelled the person to commit
suicide. In order to bring a case within the purview of Section
306 IPC, there must be a case of suicide and in the
commission of the said offence, the person who is said to
have abetted the commission of suicide must have played an
active role by an act of instigation or by doing certain act to
facilitate the commission of suicide. Therefore, the act of
abetment by the person charged with the said offence must

27 Criminal Appeal No. 93 of 2019 decided on 18 January 2019
PART I
41
be proved and established by the prosecution before he could
be convicted under Section 306 IPC.‖
In a recent decision of this Court in Gurcharan Singh vs State of Punjab28
, a
three judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice Hrishikesh Roy, held
thus:
―15. As in all crimes, mens rea has to be established. To
prove the offence of abetment, as specified under Sec 107 of
the IPC, the state of mind to commit a particular crime must
be visible, to determine the culpability. In order to prove mens
rea, there has to be something on record to establish or show
that the appellant herein had a guilty mind and in furtherance
of that state of mind, abetted the suicide of the deceased.‖
52 In Vaijnath Kondiba Khandke vs State of Maharashtra and Ors.29
, a two
judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice U.U. Lalit, dealt with an
appeal against the rejection of an application under Section 482 of the CrPC, for
quashing an FIR registered under Sections 306 and 506 read with Section 34 of
the IPC. A person serving in the office of the Deputy Director of Education
Aurangabad had committed suicide on 8 August 2017. His wife made a complaint
to the police that her husband was suffering from mental torture as his superiors
were getting heavy work done from her husband. This resulted in him having to
work from 10 AM to 10 PM and even at odd hours and on holidays. The specific
allegation against the appellant was that he had stopped the deceased‘s salary
for one month and was threatening the deceased that his increment would be
stopped. This Court noted that there was no suicide note, and the only material
on record was in the form of assertions made by the deceased‘s wife in her report

28 Criminal Appeal No. 40 of 2011 decided on 1 October 2020
29 (2018) 7 SCC 781
PART I
42
to the police. The Court went on to hold that the facts on record were inadequate
and insufficient to bring home the charge of abetment of suicide under Section
306 of the IPC. The mere factum of work being assigned by the appellant to the
deceased, or the stoppage of salary for a month, was not enough to prove
criminal intent or guilty mind. Consequently, proceedings against the appellant
were quashed.
53 On the other hand, we must also notice the decision in Praveen Pradhan
(supra) where a two judge Bench of this Court, speaking through Justice B.S.
Chauhan, dismissed an appeal against the rejection of an application under
Section 482 of the CrPC by the High Court for quashing a criminal proceeding,
implicating an offence under Section 306 of the IPC. The suicide note which was
left behind by the deceased showed, as this Court observed, that ―the appellant
perpetually humiliated, exploited and demoralised the deceased, who was
compelled to indulge in wrongful practices at the workplace, which hurt his selfrespect tremendously.‖ The Court noted that the appellant always scolded the
deceased and tried to always force the deceased to resign. Resultantly, the Court
observed:
―19. Thus, the case is required to be considered in the light of
the aforesaid settled legal propositions. In the instant case,
alleged harassment had not been a casual feature, rather
remained a matter of persistent harassment. It is not a case
of a driver; or a man having an illicit relationship with a
married woman, knowing that she also had another
paramour; and therefore, cannot be compared to the situation
of the deceased in the instant case, who was a qualified
graduate engineer and still suffered persistent harassment
and humiliation and additionally, also had to endure
continuous illegal demands made by the appellant, upon nonfulfilment of which, he would be mercilessly harassed by the
appellant for a prolonged period of time. He had also been
PART I
43
forced to work continuously for long durations in the factory,
vis-à-vis other employees which often even entered to 16-17
hours at a stretch. Such harassment, coupled with the
utterance of words to the effect, that, ―had there been any
other person in his place, he would have certainly committed
suicide‖ is what makes the present case distinct from the
aforementioned cases. Considering the facts and
circumstances of the present case, we do not think it is a
case which requires any interference by this Court as regards
the impugned judgment and order [Criminal Miscellaneous
Application No. 420 of 2006, decided on 5-1-2012 (Utt)] of the
High Court. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed accordingly.‖
The contents of the FIR therefore indicated that the deceased had been
subjected to harassment persistently and continuously and this was coupled by
words used by the accused which led to the commission of suicide.
54 In Narayan Malhari Thorat vs Vinayak Deorao Bhagat30, this Court,
speaking through Justice U.U. Lalit, reversed the judgment of a Division Bench of
the High Court which had quashed criminal proceedings in exercise of the
jurisdiction under Section 482. This was a case where the FIR was registered
pursuant to the information received from the appellant. The FIR stated that the
son and daughter-in-law of the appellant were teachers in Zila Parishad School.
The respondent used to call the daughter-in-law of the appellant on the phone
and used to harass her. Moreover, despite the efforts of the son of the appellant,
the respondent did not desist from doing so. This Court noted:
―12. We now consider the facts of the present case. There are
definite allegations that the first respondent would keep on
calling the wife of the victim on her mobile and keep
harassing her which allegations are supported by the
statements of the mother and the wife of the victim recorded
during investigation. The record shows that 3-4 days prior to
the suicide there was an altercation between the victim and

30 (2019) 13 SCC 598
PART I
44
the first respondent. In the light of these facts, coupled with
the fact that the suicide note made definite allegation against
first respondent, the High Court was not justified in entering
into question whether the first respondent had the requisite
intention to aid or instigate or abet the commission of suicide.
At this juncture when the investigation was yet to be
completed and charge-sheet, if any, was yet to be filed, the
High Court ought not to have gone into the aspect whether
there was requisite mental element or intention on part of the
respondent.‖
The above observations of the Court clearly indicated that there was a specific
allegation in the FIR bearing on the imputation that the respondent had actively
facilitated the commission of suicide by continuously harassing the spouse of the
victim and in failing to rectify his conduct despite the efforts of the victim.
55 Now in this backdrop, it becomes necessary to advert briefly to the
contents of the FIR in the present case. The FIR recites that the spouse of the
informant had a company carrying on the business of architecture, interior design
and engineering consultancy. According to the informant, her husband was over
the previous two years ―having pressure as he did not receive the money of work
carried out by him‖. The FIR recites that the deceased had called at the office of
the appellant and spoken to his accountant for the payment of money. Apart from
the above statements, it has been stated that the deceased left behind a suicide
note stating that his ―money is stuck and following owners of respective
companies are not paying our legitimate dues‖. Prima facie, on the application of
the test which has been laid down by this Court in a consistent line of authority
which has been noted above, it cannot be said that the appellant was guilty of
having abetted the suicide within the meaning of Section 306 of the IPC. These
observations, we must note, are prima facie at this stage since the High Court is
PART I
45
still to take up the petition for quashing. Clearly however, the High Court in failing
to notice the contents of the FIR and to make a prima facie evaluation abdicated
its role, functions and jurisdiction when seized of a petition under Section 482 of
the CrPC. The High Court recited the legal position that the jurisdiction to quash
under Section 482 has to be exercised sparingly. These words, however, are not
meaningless incantations, but have to be assessed with reference to the contents
of the particular FIR before the High Court. If the High Court were to carry out a
prima facie evaluation, it would have been impossible for it not to notice the
disconnect between the FIR and the provisions of Section 306 of the IPC. The
failure of the High Court to do so has led it to adopting a position where it left the
appellant to pursue his remedies for regular bail under Section 439. The High
Court was clearly in error in failing to perform a duty which is entrusted to it while
evaluating a petition under Section 482 albeit at the interim stage.
56 The petition before the High Court was instituted under Article 226 of the
Constitution and Section 482 of the CrPC. While dealing with the petition under
section 482 for quashing the FIR, the High Court has not considered whether
prima facie the ingredients of the offence have been made out in the FIR. If the
High Court were to have carried out this exercise, it would (as we have held in
this judgment) have been apparent that the ingredients of the offence have not
prima facie been established. As a consequence of its failure to perform its
function under Section 482, the High Court has disabled itself from exercising its
jurisdiction under Article 226 to consider the appellant‘s application for bail. In
considering such an application under Article 226, the High Court must be
circumspect in exercising its powers on the basis of the facts of each case.
PART I
46
However, the High Court should not foreclose itself from the exercise of the
power when a citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of their personal liberty in an
excess of state power.
57 While considering an application for the grant of bail under Article 226 in a
suitable case, the High Court must consider the settled factors which emerge
from the precedents of this Court. These factors can be summarized as follows:
(i) The nature of the alleged offence, the nature of the accusation and the
severity of the punishment in the case of a conviction;
(ii) Whether there exists a reasonable apprehension of the accused tampering
with the witnesses or being a threat to the complainant or the witnesses;
(iii) The possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the trial or the
likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice;
(iv) The antecedents of and circumstances which are peculiar to the accused;
(v) Whether prima facie the ingredients of the offence are made out, on the
basis of the allegations as they stand, in the FIR; and
(vi) The significant interests of the public or the State and other similar
considerations.
58 These principles have evolved over a period of time and emanate from the
following (among other) decisions: Prahlad Singh Bhati vs NCT, Delhi31; Ram
Govind Upadhyay vs Sudarshan Singh32; State of UP vs Amarmani

31 (2001) 4 SCC 280
32 (2002) 3 SCC 598
PART J
47
Tripathi33; Prasanta Kumar Sarkar vs Ashis Chatterjee34; Sanjay Chandra vs
CBI35; and P. Chidambaram vs Central Bureau of Investigation36
.
59 These principles are equally applicable to the exercise of jurisdiction under
Article 226 of the Constitution when the court is called upon to secure the liberty
of the accused. The High Court must exercise its power with caution and
circumspection, cognizant of the fact that this jurisdiction is not a ready substitute
for recourse to the remedy of bail under Section 439 of the CrPC. In the backdrop
of these principles, it has become necessary to scrutinize the contents of the FIR
in the case at hand. In this batch of cases, a prima facie evaluation of the FIR
does not establish the ingredients of the offence of abetment of suicide under
Section 306 of the IPC. The appellants are residents of India and do not pose a
flight risk during the investigation or the trial. There is no apprehension of
tampering of evidence or witnesses. Taking these factors into consideration, the
order dated 11 November 2020 envisaged the release of the appellants on bail.
J Human liberty and the role of Courts
60 Human liberty is a precious constitutional value, which is undoubtedly
subject to regulation by validly enacted legislation. As such, the citizen is subject
to the edicts of criminal law and procedure. Section 482 recognizes the inherent
power of the High Court to make such orders as are necessary to give effect to
the provisions of the CrPC ―or prevent abuse of the process of any Court or
otherwise to secure the ends of justice‖. Decisions of this court require the High

33 (2005) 8 SCC 21
34 (2010) 14 SCC 496
35 (2012) 1 SCC 40
36 Criminal Appeal No. 1605 of 2019 decided on 22 October 2019
PART J
48
Courts, in exercising the jurisdiction entrusted to them under Section 482, to act
with circumspection. In emphasising that the High Court must exercise this power
with a sense of restraint, the decisions of this Court are founded on the basic
principle that the due enforcement of criminal law should not be obstructed by the
accused taking recourse to artifices and strategies. The public interest in
ensuring the due investigation of crime is protected by ensuring that the inherent
power of the High Court is exercised with caution. That indeed is one – and a
significant – end of the spectrum. The other end of the spectrum is equally
important: the recognition by Section 482 of the power inhering in the High Court
to prevent the abuse of process or to secure the ends of justice is a valuable
safeguard for protecting liberty. The Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898 was
enacted by a legislature which was not subject to constitutional rights and
limitations; yet it recognized the inherent power in Section 561A. PostIndependence, the recognition by Parliament37 of the inherent power of the High
Court must be construed as an aid to preserve the constitutional value of liberty.
The writ of liberty runs through the fabric of the Constitution. The need to ensure
the fair investigation of crime is undoubtedly important in itself, because it
protects at one level the rights of the victim and, at a more fundamental level, the
societal interest in ensuring that crime is investigated and dealt with in
accordance with law. On the other hand, the misuse of the criminal law is a
matter of which the High Court and the lower Courts in this country must be alive.
In the present case, the High Court could not but have been cognizant of the
specific ground which was raised before it by the appellant that he was being

37 Section 482 of the CrPC 1973
PART J
49
made a target as a part of a series of occurrences which have been taking place
since April 2020. The specific case of the appellant is that he has been targeted
because his opinions on his television channel are unpalatable to authority.
Whether the appellant has established a case for quashing the FIR is something
on which the High Court will take a final view when the proceedings are listed
before it but we are clearly of the view that in failing to make even a prima facie
evaluation of the FIR, the High Court abdicated its constitutional duty and
function as a protector of liberty. Courts must be alive to the need to safeguard
the public interest in ensuring that the due enforcement of criminal law is not
obstructed. The fair investigation of crime is an aid to it. Equally it is the duty of
courts across the spectrum – the district judiciary, the High Courts and the
Supreme Court – to ensure that the criminal law does not become a weapon for
the selective harassment of citizens. Courts should be alive to both ends of the
spectrum – the need to ensure the proper enforcement of criminal law on the one
hand and the need, on the other, of ensuring that the law does not become a
ruse for targeted harassment. Liberty across human eras is as tenuous as
tenuous can be. Liberty survives by the vigilance of her citizens, on the
cacophony of the media and in the dusty corridors of courts alive to the rule of
(and not by) law. Yet, much too often, liberty is a casualty when one of these
components is found wanting.
61 Mr Kapil Sibal, Mr Amit Desai and Mr Chander Uday Singh are
undoubtedly right in submitting that the procedural hierarchy of courts in matters
concerning the grant of bail needs to be respected. However, there was a failure
of the High Court to discharge its adjudicatory function at two levels – first in
PART J
50
declining to evaluate prima facie at the interim stage in a petition for quashing the
FIR as to whether an arguable case has been made out, and secondly, in
declining interim bail, as a consequence of its failure to render a prima facie
opinion on the first. The High Court did have the power to protect the citizen by
an interim order in a petition invoking Article 226. Where the High Court has
failed to do so, this Court would be abdicating its role and functions as a
constitutional court if it refuses to interfere, despite the parameters for such
interference being met. The doors of this Court cannot be closed to a citizen who
is able to establish prima facie that the instrumentality of the State is being
weaponized for using the force of criminal law. Our courts must ensure that they
continue to remain the first line of defense against the deprivation of the liberty of
citizens. Deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one day too many. We
must always be mindful of the deeper systemic implications of our decisions.
62 It would be apposite to extract the observations made, albeit in a
dissenting opinion, by one of us (Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J.) in a decision of
a three judge bench in Romila Thapar vs Union of India38:
―[T]he basic entitlement of every citizen who is faced with
allegations of criminal wrongdoing, is that the investigative
process should be fair. This is an integral component of the
guarantee against arbitrariness under Article 14 and of the
right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. If this Court
were not to stand by the principles which we have formulated,
we may witness a soulful requiem to liberty.‖

38 (2018) 10 SCC 753
PART J
51
The decision was a dissent in the facts of the case. The view of the leading
majority judgment is undoubtedly the view of the court, which binds us. However,
the principle quoted above is in line with the precedents of this court.
63 More than four decades ago, in a celebrated judgment in State of
Rajasthan, Jaipur vs Balchand39, Justice Krishna Iyer pithily reminded us that
the basic rule of our criminal justice system is ‗bail, not jail‘40
. The High Courts
and Courts in the district judiciary of India must enforce this principle in practice,
and not forego that duty, leaving this Court to intervene at all times. We must in
particular also emphasise the role of the district judiciary, which provides the first
point of interface to the citizen. Our district judiciary is wrongly referred to as the
‗subordinate judiciary‘. It may be subordinate in hierarchy but it is not subordinate
in terms of its importance in the lives of citizens or in terms of the duty to render
justice to them. High Courts get burdened when courts of first instance decline to
grant anticipatory bail or bail in deserving cases. This continues in the Supreme
Court as well, when High Courts do not grant bail or anticipatory bail in cases
falling within the parameters of the law. The consequence for those who suffer
incarceration are serious. Common citizens without the means or resources to
move the High Courts or this Court languish as undertrials. Courts must be alive
to the situation as it prevails on the ground – in the jails and police stations where
human dignity has no protector. As judges, we would do well to remind ourselves
that it is through the instrumentality of bail that our criminal justice system‘s
primordial interest in preserving the presumption of innocence finds its most

39 (1977) 4 SCC 308
40 These words of Justice Krishna Iyer are not isolated silos in our jurisprudence, but have been consistently
followed in judgments of this Court for decades. Some of these judgments are: State of U.P. vs Amarmani
Tripathi, (2005) 8 SCC 21 and Sanjay Chandra vs CBI, (2012) 1 SCC 40.
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eloquent expression. The remedy of bail is the ―solemn expression of the
humaneness of the justice system‖41
. Tasked as we are with the primary
responsibility of preserving the liberty of all citizens, we cannot countenance an
approach that has the consequence of applying this basic rule in an inverted
form. We have given expression to our anguish in a case where a citizen has
approached this court. We have done so in order to reiterate principles which
must govern countless other faces whose voices should not go unheard.
64 We would also like to take this opportunity to place on record data sourced
from the National Judicial Data Grid (―NJDG‖) on the number of bail applications
currently pending in High Courts and District Courts across India:
Pendency before the High Courts
Bail Applications 91,56842
Criminal Matters (Writ Petitions, Case/Petitions, Appeals,
Revisions and Applications)
12,66,133
Pendency before the District Courts
Bail Applications 1,96,861
65 The data on the NJDG is available in the public realm. The NJDG is a
valuable resource for all High Courts to monitor the pendency and disposal of

41 Arghya Sengupta and Ritvika Sharma, ‗Saharashri and the Supremes‘, (The Wire, 23 June 2015) available at
<https://thewire.in/economy/saharashri-and-the-supremes>
42 For nine High Courts, no separate data is available in relation to pending bail applications, which are quantified
as pending applications simplicitor. Further, for two High Courts, the data is only available for their principal
bench and not their circuit benches. More granulated data can be accessed at the website of the NJDG, available
at <www.njdg.ecourts.gov.in>.
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cases, including criminal cases. For Chief Justices of the High Courts, the
information which is available is capable of being utilized as a valuable
instrument to promote access to justice, particularly in matters concerning liberty.
The Chief Justices of every High Court should in their administrative capacities
utilize the ICT tools which are placed at their disposal in ensuring that access to
justice is democratized and equitably allocated. Liberty is not a gift for the few.
Administrative judges in charge of districts must also use the facility to engage
with the District judiciary and monitor pendency. As the data on the NJDG makes
clear, there is a pressing need for courts across the judicial hierarchy in India to
remedy the institutional problem of bail applications not being heard and
disposed of with expedition. Every court in our country would do well to
remember Lord Denning‘s powerful invocation in the first Hamlyn Lecture, titled
‗Freedom under the Law‘43:
―Whenever one of the judges takes seat, there is one
application which by long tradition has priority over all
others. The counsel has but to say, ‗My Lord, I have an
application which concerns the liberty of the subject‘, and
forthwith the judge will put all other matters aside and hear
it. …‖
It is our earnest hope that our courts will exhibit acute awareness to the need
to expand the footprint of liberty and use our approach as a decision-making
yardstick for future cases involving the grant of bail.

43 Sir Alfred Denning, Freedom under the Law, the Hamlyn Lectures, First Series, available at
<https://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/media/universityofexeter/schoolofhumanitiesandsocialsciences/law/pdfs/Freedom_Under_the_Law_1.pdf>.
PART K
54
66 Since the proceedings are pending before the High Court, we clarify that
the observations on the facts contained in the present judgment are confined to a
determination whether a case for grant of interim protection was made out.
Equally, the observations which are contained in the impugned order of the High
Court were also at the interim stage and will not affect the final resolution of the
issues which arise and have been raised before the High Court.
K Conclusion
67 While reserving the judgment at the conclusion of arguments, this Court
had directed the release of all the three appellants on bail pending the disposal of
the proceedings before the High Court. The following operative directions were
issued on 11 November 2020:
―9 We are of the considered view that the High Court
was in error in rejecting the applications for the grant of
interim bail. We accordingly order and direct that Arnab
Manoranjan Goswami, Feroz Mohammad Shaikh and Neetish
Sarda shall be released on interim bail, subject to each of
them executing a personal bond in the amount of Rs 50,000
to be executed before the Jail Superintendent. They are,
however, directed to cooperate in the investigation and shall
not make any attempt to interfere with the ongoing
investigation or with the witnesses.
10 The concerned jail authorities and the Superintendent
of Police, Raigad are directed to ensure that this order is
complied with forthwith.
11 A certified copy of this order shall be issued during
the course of the day‖
PART K
55
68 The interim protection which has been granted to the above accused by
the order dated 11 November 2020 shall continue to remain in operation pending
the disposal of the proceedings before the High Court and thereafter for a period
of four weeks from the date of the judgment of the High Court, should it become
necessary for all or any of them to take further recourse to their remedies in
accordance with law.
69 The appeals are accordingly disposed of.
70 Pending application(s), if any, stand disposed of.
…….………….…………………………………………J.
[Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud]
…….…………………………………………………….J.
[Indira Banerjee]
New Delhi;
November 27, 2020.

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