Casting couch case: Adding serious offences to the FIR can be a circumstance to cancel the granted bail says Supreme Court

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On 17th March 2023, the Supreme Court of India was hearing a bail plea in the matter, Ms. X. vs. The State of Maharashtra and another, related to “casting couch syndrome.” The bench comprising Justices A.S.Bopanna and Hima Kohli listened to the matter and stated that the addition of more serious offences to the FIR can be taken as a circumstance by the Court to cancel the granted bail. The top Court while giving the judgment addressed various other orders too which highlighted that “Addition of a serious offence can be a circumstance where a Court can direct that the accused be arrested and committed to custody even though an order of bail was earlier granted in his favor in respect of the offences with which he was changed when his bail application was considered and a favorable order was passed.”

The Supreme Court bench was considering an appeal filed by a female model who stated that the accused, a businessman, lured her under the garb of offering her some modeling assignments and then forced himself upon her and raped her in a hotel room where she was staying. She also alleged that “she dialed ‘100’ to call the police but the police deliberately did not take her for a medical examination even on alleging the commission of rape by the accused.” The appellant was constantly pressurized to settle the matter but she did not agree to do so and the police was compelled to register the FIR, even then, they had watered down the offences to favor the accused. In the Casting Couch case, the accused was aggrieved by the orders passed by the High Court in the exercise of its Criminal Appellate jurisdiction allowing the anticipatory bail application3 filed by the accused in connection with FIR4 filed by the appellant.

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The Supreme Court observed that the applicant was released on bail on an earlier occasion, but on the supplementary statement being recorded, and Section 376 has been added to the subject C.R. The applicant was apprehending his arrest, since the earlier bail order operating in his favor, was canceled. The primary ground that had persuaded the High Court to grant interim protection to the accused was that the appellant tried to improve her version of the incident from what was first recorded in the FIR by leveling additional allegations in her first Supplementary Statement recorded in the evening on the very same date and in the second Supplementary Statement recorded after one month. In this context, the bench added that “it is not in dispute that when the respondent No. 2/accused moved an application for bail before the learned ACMM on 6th August 2022, the offences mentioned in the FIR were under Sections 354, 354-B and 506 IPC. Bail was granted to him on the same day primarily on the ground of non-compliance with Section 41-A CrPC.” 

The top Court also highlighted that the offence under Section 376 IPC was added to the same FIR and the crime was escalated to offences under Sections 376, 354, 354-B, and 506(2) of the IPC. The bench added, “such an approach tantamounts to failure to recognize the right of the prosecutrix to participate in the criminal proceedings that would include a right to oppose the application for anticipatory bail moved by the accused.” The appellant denied a meaningful hearing when the first impugned order of anticipatory bail granted in favor of the accused was confirmed by the second impugned order, which was an additional factor that prevailed with the top Court to interfere in the impugned orders of Casting couch case. To protect the identity of the appellant, she has been identified as “Ms. X” in these proceedings. The Supreme Court further stated that “The two impugned orders granting anticipatory bail to the accused, cannot be sustained and are quashed and set aside.”

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