Bail cancellation plea should be listed before the same judge bench who granted bail to the accused: Supreme Court

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In a recent order, the Supreme Court (SC) of India held that the bail cancellation plea could not be listed before a judge other than the one who granted bail to the accused (Himanshu Sharma and others in this case). On February 20, 2024, a two-judge bench consisting of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta said “Under normal circumstances, the application for cancellation of bail filed on merits as opposed to violation of the conditions of the bail order should have been placed before the same learned Single Judge who had granted bail to the accused.” The bench further stated that such exercise of jurisdiction is tantamount to gross impropriety. The order reads, “We fail to understand how the application seeking cancellation of bail came to be listed before a Single Judge other than the learned Single Judge who had granted bail to the appellants.”

The Supreme Court was hearing an instant appeal against the December 12, 2023, order by the learned Single-Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court bench at Gwalior whereby the bail granted to the appellants was cancelled on applications filed by the State under Section 439(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. The appellants (Himanshu Sharma and others) were arrested for offences punishable under Sections:- 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 470 (forged document), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 25/27 of the Arms Act. The bail applications were accepted by a Learned Single-judge of the Madhya Pradesh HC preferred by the appellants under Section 439 CrPC. The SC bench observed that “They were implicated in the case solely on the basis of confessional statements made by the co­accused persons.”

After hearing the matter, the SC bench said “We are of the considered opinion that the impugned orders dated 12th  December 2023 whereby the bail granted to the appellants by the learned Single Judge of High Court of Madhya Pradesh vide orders dated 8th September 2022 and 14th September 2022 was cancelled, are grossly illegal and do not stand to scrutiny.  Resultantly, the same is hereby quashed and set aside.”