While granting bail to a woman accused of murdering her husband, the Karnataka High Court recently noted that it is not the law that bail should always be denied in a case where the offence punishable is of death or life imprisonment.
The single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna was hearing the petition filed by one Netra. The bench granted her bail under Section 437 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
As per Section 437 of CrPC, bail can be granted in a non-bailable offence on three circumstances including when the person is below 16 years of age, is a woman or a person who is sick or infirm.
The woman is accused of murdering her husband. The father of the deceased lodged a complaint against her. In the complaint, he stated that he saw his son dead when he visited his house in the midnight and his wife was holding a weapon in her hand. He alleged that the accused ran away after seeing him there.
The petitioner herein was booked and is in custody since November 8, 2021. She had moved a bail petition under Section 439 of CrPC during the pendency of investigation which was not considered.
After a thorough investigation, the police filed a chargesheet on 25 January 2022 and the application for bail was taken up on 17 February 2022. The bail was rejected notwithstanding the fact that a charge sheet had been filed in the matter on the ground that the offence committed was punishable with death or life imprisonment.
Senior Advocate Hashmath Pasha representing the Petitioner argued that notwithstanding the accusation being one punishable under Section 302 of the IPC, the accused being a woman is statutorily entitled to be considered for release on bail, that too in a case where the charge sheet is already filed in the matter.
He added that the co-accused in this case has already got bail.
However, the prosecution contended that offence committed by petitioner is punishable with death or life imprisonment. That being so, the petitioner notwithstanding being a woman and entitled for consideration under Section 437 of the CrPC should not be released in the matter as she would be a threat to the society.
High Court Findings
Referring to CrPC Section 437, “The petitioner is a woman. She is entitled for consideration under Section 437 of the Cr.P.C.”
The observations were made while relying on the judgments including Kavitha v. State of Karnataka, Crl.P.No.2509 of 2019 decided on 5-08-2019, Ratnawwa v. State of Karnataka, Crl.P.No.100503 of 2014 decided on 13-03-2014 and Thippamma v. State of Karnataka,Crl.P.No.8575 of 2017 decided on 01-03-2018.
The bench stated, “The statute i.e. Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. and its application in the judgments of three coordinate Benches all would ensure to the benefit of the petitioner to be enlarged on bail notwithstanding the fact that the offence alleged is under Section 302 of the IPC.”
In exceptional cases, if the statute permits and the facts not being so gory and grave criminal antecedents shrouding the culprit, the consideration in such cases would be different, the bench added.
Concluding the findings, the bench held, “In my considered view, the facts in the case at hand are not those that would not entitle consideration of the case under Section 437 of the Cr.P.C. particularly, looking at the conduct of the petitioner for having surrendered before the Police on commission of the alleged murder. The petitioner has no criminal antecedents except the present sword hanging on the head, and on release would not be a threat to society, coupled with the fact that the police have completed the investigation and have filed the charge sheet at the case on hand.”
The bench granted bail to the woman on execution of a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with one surety for like sum and also imposed few conditions.