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 It must be said right at the outset that in a latest, landmark and laudable judgment titled Harendra Singh @ Harendra Bahadur Vs The State Of U.P. in Criminal Misc. Application No. 6478 of 2019 (Bail) delivered on July 8, 2019 by the Allahabad High Court, it has been held that plea for anticipatory bail is not maintainable before High Court without approaching Sessions Court unless there are special reasons. Justice Chandra Dhari Singh of Allahabad High Court has authored this noteworthy and commendable judgment. This noteworthy judgment makes it absolutely clear that the party has to explain why it has come to the High Court directly without approaching first the Sessions Court and anticipatory bail application filed under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not maintainable before the High Court without exhausting remedy before the Court of Sessions, unless there are ‘extraneous or special reasons’.

                                      First and foremost, after stating that, “Heard learned Counsel for the applicant and learned A.G.A.” in para 1,  it is then clearly pointed out in para 2 that, “By means of instant application filed under Section 438 of Cr.P.C., the applicant has sought anticipatory bail in Case Crime No. 476 of 2019, under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC lodged at Police Station, Kotwali Nagar, District Raebareli.”

                                     It would be pertinent to mention here that it is then pointed out in para 3 that, “Before adverting to the factual matrix of this case and to ascertain as to whether the applicant is entitled for grant of anticipatory bail or not; a serious legal question has been raised before this Court by the learned A.G.A. that the applicant without exhausting the remedy under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. before the jurisdiction Sessions Court, has directly approached this Court. Therefore, this application is not maintainable and the applicant has to be relegated to the Court of Sessions first and then he can approach this Court. In this background, the legal question that arises for consideration of this Court is that-

           ‘Whether the application filed under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C. is maintained before the High Court without exhausting remedy under the said provision before the Court of Sessions which has concurrent jurisdiction with that of the High Court?’”

                                  What’s more, it is then rightly pointed out in para 6 that, “On plain and meaningful reading of the abovesaid provision, it is crystal clear that it confers concurrent jurisdiction on the High Court as well as the Court of Sessions. The wide discretion has been entrusted on the Court of Sessions as well as on the High Court to enlarge such person who comes to the Court, on anticipatory bail. Both the courts have got jurisdiction to enlarge the applicant on anticipatory bail, considering the relevant guidelines in the said provision.”

                                       To be sure, it is then rightly pointed out in para 16 that, “In a decision reported in 1983 (2) KLJ 8 in the case of K.C. Iyya Vs. State of Karnataka, the High Court of Karnataka has observed as follows:

          ‘7. Since both the Courts, the Court of Sessions and this Court have concurrent powers in the matter, it appears desirable, for more than one reason, that the Sessions Court should be approached first in the matter’.”

                                       In a similar vein, it is then also rightly stated in para 17 that, “In the case of Shivasubramanyam Vs. State of Karnataka and another; 2002 CRI.L.J 1998, the Karnataka High Court has reiterated the abovesaid principles and ultimately held that the application filed under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. directly to the High Court is maintainable only under exceptional and under special circumstances, but not as a routine and the party cannot come before the Court as a matter of right.”

                                In totality, it is then observed in para 18 that, “By looking into the abovesaid discussions, I am of the opinion that the party has to approach the Sessions Court first and then he has to approach the High Court which is the normal course. But the courts have also observed that in extraordinary circumstances with special reasons, the party can also approach the High Court. The High Court cannot entertain Section 438 of Cr.P.C. as a matter of routine without examining whether there are any special reasons or special circumstances to entertain the said application.”

                                      It also cannot be lost on us that it is then observed in para 19 that, “In the case of Sri Kwmia Gwra Brahma Vs. State of Assam (Bail No. 3024 of 2014), the Gauhati High Court has also expressed similar view and held that the party has to approach the Court of Sessions first under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. and he can later approach the High Court.”

                                      Needless to say, para 20 then leaves no stone unturned to make it absolutely clear that, “The intention of bringing out Section 438 of Cr.P.C. is enabling each and every person in the country if under extraordinary circumstances under exigencies either to approach the Court of Sessions or the High Court which can be concurrently exercised by both the courts. Though such remedy, cannot be riddled down by imposing any extraordinary condition but still the Court can refuse to entertain the bail petition and direct the party to approach the Court of Sessions first because Section 438 of Cr.P.C. shall not be exercised as a matter of right by the party, though it can be invoked either before the Sessions Court or before the High Court. It is purely the discretionary power of the Court to exercise power depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, the High Court can direct the party to go first before the Court of Sessions and then come to the High Court though there is no embargo under the statute itself, but the Court can do so on the basis of various factors.”

                     Be it noted, it is then illustrated in para 21 why the party should first approach the lower court by stating that, “It is worth to note here that whenever the concurrent jurisdiction is vested under the statute simultaneously in two courts of one is superior to the other, then it is appropriate that the party should apply to the subordinate Court first, because the higher Court would have the advantage of considering the opinion of the Sessions Court. Moreover, the party will get two opportunities to get the remedy either before the Sessions Court or before the High Court but if once he approaches the High Court, he would run the risk that, the other remedy is not available to him if he failed to get the order in the High Court, he cannot go before the Sessions Court for the same remedy. However, vice versa is possible.”

                             While continuing in the same vein as to why the parties should first approach the lower court, it is then further noted in para 22 that, “It is also to be notable that the Sessions Court will always be nearest and accessible Court to the parties. Moreover, considering the work load of the courts in the country, the High Courts are flooded with heavy pendency of cases. In order to facilitate the other parties who come before the Court with other cases before the High Court (which has got exclusive Jurisdiction) and also in order to provide alternative remedy to the parties, it is just and necessary that the party shall first approach the Sessions Court under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. so that the High Court can bestow its precious time to deal with other pending cases which requires serious attention and expeditious disposal, where the parties who have come to the High Court after exhausting remedy before the Magistrate Court or the Sessions Court for grant of bail and for other reliefs.”

                                Not stopping here, it is then further observed in para 23 that, “The grant of anticipatory bail or regular bail requires appreciation, scrutiny of facts and after going through the entire materials on record. In that context, if the Sessions Court has already applied its mind and passed the appropriate order, it would be easy for the High Court to look into or have a cursory glance of the observation made by the Sessions Court and dispose of the case, with expedition.”

                                      Going forward, it is then stipulated in para 24 that, “It is also worth to note here that the Sessions Court and the High Court arte concurrently empowered to grant bail under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. The object is that if the party who is residing in the remote area can directly approach the Sessions Court which is easily accessible. In order to obviate the very object and purpose, the party has to explain why he did not go to that Court. Otherwise, it amounts to making that provision redundant, so far  as the Sessions Courts are concerned. Even once again re-looking into structure of Section 438 of Cr.P.C., it is purely the discretionary power given to the Court to entertain the Petition. It is the discretion given to the Courts to exercise that power. When discretion vests with Court, the party has to explain why he has come to the High Court directly, for the discretionary relief under the said provision.”

                                            To say the least, it is then summed up in para 25 by holding that, “Therefore, looking to the abovesaid rulings of different High Courts, I do not find any strong reason to deviate from the said view taken by the other High Courts. Hence, I am of the opinion, the point formulated by me noted above has to be answered accordingly.”

                                      While proceeding ahead on a sure wicket, it is then envisaged in para 26 that, “Hence, I answer the point raised as follows:

    “The bail application filed under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. is not maintainable before the High Court without exhausting remedy before the Court of Sessions, which has got concurrent jurisdiction. However, for extraneous or special reasons, the High Court can also exercise such power for grant of the remedy under the said provision”.”

                              Interestingly enough, it is then observed in para 27 that, “Having held in such manner, now let me see whether the petitioner has approached this Court with any such extraneous or special reason.”

                                    Briefly stated, it is then recapitulated in para 28 that, “Factual matrix of the case is that an FIR was lodged by informant Sri Atul Kumar Singh, Officer In-charge of Police Station Kotwali Nagar, District Rae bareli in Case Crime No. 476 of 2019, under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC against the applicant. It is alleged in the FIR that the complainant along with S.I. Pawan Pratap Singh, S.I. Umesh Chandra, S.I. Vivek Tripathi and some police constables were engaged in checking of the vehicles. In the meantime, they received an information through “Mukhbir” that a Bolero vehicle is on the way in which 7-8 persons are seated and they are in possession of Ganja. It is also alleged that the Bolero was stopped and five persons were arrested. The arrested persons were disclosed their identity as Jitreya Tarabdar, Radheshyam Viswas, Jayant Sardar, Brojoshish Viswas and Bobby Halder.”

                               Moving on, para 29 then discloses that, “It has been averred by the applicant in the bail application that he is a member of Gram Sabha and due to difference in opinion between him and the Gram Pradhan, he has been falsely implicated in the present case by the local police. In the earlier occasion also, the son of the applicant, namely, Vikas Kumar was falsely implicated in a case at the instance of the same Gram Pradhan. It is also disclosed in the application that against the present applicant, a criminal case is pending before the court of Additional District Judge VIth, Raebareli arising out of Case Crime No. 71 of 2018, under Section 8/20 of N.D.P.S. Act but in the entire application, the applicant has not disclosed the urgency for filing the instant application before this Court directly.”

                                     As it turned out, para 30 then sums up saying that, “In view of the above facts and circumstances the learned Counsel for the applicant also failed to explain as to why he has rushed to this Court directly for seeking said discretionary relief under the provisions of Section 438 of Cr.P.C. He has also failed to disclose any extraneous or special reason.” Para 31 then states that, “Lastly, learned Counsel for the applicant has sought permission to withdraw the bail application with liberty to approach the concerned Sessions Court.”

                               Finally and most crucially, it is then held in para 32 that, “Considering the abovesaid circumstances and the request made by the learned Counsel for the applicant for withdrawing the bail application with liberty to approach the concerned Sessions Court and also in the interest of justice, the instant bail application is dismissed as withdrawn with liberty to the applicant to approach the concerned sessions court and file an application under Section 438 of Cr.P.C.”

                                  In a nutshell, this extremely laudable, latest and landmark judgment which has been delivered recently by the Allahabad High Court has served to send an unmistakable message to all litigants that they should first approach the Sessions Court only and only then should they knock the doors of the High Court. The benefits of doing so has already been pointed out in detail above. It is only under exceptional circumstances that the litigant can approach the High Court directly without approaching the Sessions Court which has to be explained also. Such permission also cannot be granted as a matter of routine unless there are “extraneous or special reasons” to do so! In this present case, the applicant clearly failed to prove any such “extraneous or special reasons” and so had no option but to withdraw the plea and the Allahabad High Court was magnanimous enough to grant the permission to do so accordingly with liberty to approach the Sessions Court! Very rightly so!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.


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