Acid Attack Bail Suspension Must Consider Public Interest: Supreme Court

Supreme Court, in Shivani Tyagi v. State of U.P. & Anr., emphasized that incarceration alone doesn't justify bail suspension under Section 389 of CrPC in acid attack cases.

The Supreme Court recently made a significant observation in an acid attack case, highlighting the complexities involved in invoking certain legal powers. In a case where life imprisonment was imposed on the convicted individuals, the Court addressed the application of Section 389 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which deals with the suspension of sentence pending an appeal against conviction and the release of the accused on bail.

In this particular instance, criminal appeals were filed by the victim of the acid attack against the suspension of the life imprisonment sentence of the convicted persons and their subsequent release on bail. The Bench, consisting of Justice C.T. Ravikumar and Justice Rajesh Bindal, deliberated on the matter, with Justice Bindal providing his concurrent opinion.

The Court emphasized, "The mere fact of suffering incarceration for a specific period, especially in cases involving life imprisonment, cannot be the sole basis for invoking power under Section 389 CrPC without considering relevant factors." This stance was taken considering the practical challenges in expediting appeals against convictions, particularly in cases of serious offenses like those resulting in life imprisonment.

Moreover, the Court cautioned against interpreting the law in a manner that would lead to the automatic suspension of sentences solely due to the length of incarceration. Such an interpretation would not only contradict legislative intent but also undermine public interest and social security.

The case involved five private respondents who were convicted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for their involvement in the acid attack on the appellant/victim. The victim, aged approximately 31 at the time of the incident, suffered severe injuries, including deep burns on her face, chest, and hands, resulting in disfigurement.

Referring to precedent, the Court highlighted the need to objectively consider factors such as the nature and gravity of the offense when deciding on the suspension of sentence and grant of bail. It stressed that each case must be examined individually, with due consideration given to relevant parameters.

Furthermore, the Court criticized the impugned order for its failure to apply the appropriate legal principles and consider the seriousness of the offense, particularly in cases as grave as acid attacks. It noted the inadequacy of the order in reflecting the necessary considerations under Section 389 of the CrPC.

Justice Bindal, in his concurrent opinion, addressed the issue of offering money to the victim as a means to secure the suspension of sentence in such heinous crimes. He emphasized the principle of proportionality in sentencing and highlighted the dangers of undermining the criminal justice system by allowing leniency without valid reasons.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeals, overturning the High Court's order and directing the judicial custody of the accused persons.

The legal representation in this case included AOR Niranjan Sahu for the appellant/victim, while Senior Advocate Vinay Navare and AOR Rajat Singh represented the respondents.