A Sessions Judge in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh has come in for some heavy criticism for cancelling bail because the accused had alcohol on his breath.
The Sessions Judge had observed: “…the smell of alcohol is badly emanating from the mouth of accused. The act and conduct of the accused while appearing in this court under the state of intoxication in a sessions trial being faced by him, is not upto the mark. As such, he is not entitled to enjoy the discretionary relief of bail granted by this court. Henceforth, his bail bonds are cancelled and forfeited to the State of HP and he is committed to judicial custody till 27.3.2019.”
Chastising the judge for passing an order in what he described as “the most reckless manner bordering on brazenness and above all without any sanctity or authority of law”, Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan of the Himachal Pradesh High Court said he could not understand under which provision of law and under what authority the Sessions Judge had cancelled bail, which had earlier been granted to the petitioner on May 8, 2015.
If at all the bail of the petitioner was to be cancelled, it could have only been done in accordance with law, by taking recourse to Section 439 (2) Cr.P.C, the high court observed, while hearing a revision application filed by the accused.
The high court also noted that the Sessions Judge had not found any overt act on the part of the accused nor had he found the accused to be causing obstruction in the court proceedings. The judge, according to the high court, appeared to have felt offended by the fact that the accused/petitioner had come to court after consuming liquor. But that by itself could not have been a ground for cancelling the bail, the high court observed.
“…the impugned order not only exhibits the wanton breach on the part of the Presiding Officer of the governing principles of law and procedure, but has been passed in the most reckless manner in utter disregard to legal principles,” the court said, while setting aside the order of the Sessions Judge.
It ordered the release of the accused, and proceeded to issue show cause notice to the Sessions Judge to explain under what provisions of law he had chosen to pass the order cancelling bail.
The next date of the hearing has been fixed for April 16, 2019 by the high court.
Read Judgment here.