A single bench of Justice Asha Menon called for the use of tracking systems such as GPS tracking system to monitor the movement of accused who have been released on bail while dismissing the petition filed by Delhi Government challenging the order granting bail to Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, a bookie accused in the match fixing scandal of 2000.
The single-Judge bench of Justice Asha Menon also delved into the factors that the court has to consider for cancellation of bail, while also observing that bail once granted, ought to not be interfered with unless compelling reasons arise.
“It is settled that once bail granted should not be cancelled in a mechanical manner without considering any supervening circumstances which is not conducive to fair trial. It cannot be cancelled on a request from the side of the complainant/ investigating agency unless and until it is established that the same is being misused and it is no longer conducive in the interest of justice to allow the accused any further to remain on bail. No doubt, the bail can be cancelled only in those discerning few cases where it is established that a person to whom the concession of bail has been granted is misusing the same,” the bench reiterated the observations of the Supreme Court in Directorate of Enforcement v. Ratul Puri, 2020 SCC Online Del 97.
Chawla was granted on bail by the ASJ, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, vide an order dated April 6, 2020.
The judge observed that the case “brought to the fore the need for investigative agencies and the Government to consider the use of advances in technology to track under-trials in cases of this nature where the State may fear that an accused may flee from trial”.
“Digital and electronic equipment, as presently used in America, ought to be introduced in India, so that a tracking system similar to the GPS Tracking System, can be used to monitor the movement of the accused released on bail, allowing the authorities to gather information all the time while permitting the accused to undertake the usual and ordinary activities of normal life”.
While granting bail to Chawla, the Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House Courts, directed him to keep his mobile phone operational at all times and directed him to make a call to the Investigating Officer/Station House Officer once a day. Chawla’s brother, and the two sureties were also directed to furnish the details of their mobile phones to the IO/SHO and to keep their mobile phones operational at all times.
The HC observed, In the absence of technological monitoring systems in India, the ASJ adopted the “next best course available”.
The HC added that the trial court had rightly applied the COVID-19 guidelines regarding the de-congestion of prisons, and the accused was also entitled to such benefit.
ASG Sanjay Jain and additional public prosecutor Kewal Singh Ahuja represented the police, sought cancellation of his bail on the ground that Chawla is a British national and it took 20 years to bring him back to India and there is likelihood of the his fleeing from justice.
Senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Chawla, opposed the police’s plea saying his client never applied for bail in 60 days which showed he was cooperating with the prosecuting agency. He said the trial was pending for seven years, the charges have not been framed and it will take considerable time to complete the trial.
Read the Order here: