Legal Articles

Inside The Courtroom : What’s in a name? (of the relief)

A false complaint of cheating and forgery is filed against X. The complaint pertains to a 10-year-old property transaction gone sour. X was the broker but did not receive any money whatsoever, since the transaction didn’t fructify. The local police kept harassing X by calling him to the police station daily. They forced X to settle with the complainant. X was later informed that the complainant has approached a senior officer, who is forcing action against X without due cause. X fearing his arrest, applied for anticipatory bail.

In William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Juliet was not allowed to associate with Romeo as he was a Montague. The feud between the Montagues and the Capulets forbade their alliance. This made her utter the well-known lines “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”

The above lines hold weight in practical litigation as well. A relief sought, and granted, but in a different form – is still as good. Such a relief must be grabbed by the counsel without further agitating the court.

For example, under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973, the High Court and the Court of Sessions have concurrent powers to grant anticipatory bail to “any person who has reason to believe that he may be arrested on accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence”. The Court however has to consider various factors before granting anticipatory bail such as; the nature and gravity of the offence; antecedents of the applicant; possibility of the applicant to flee from justice; whether the accusation is made to humiliate or injure the reputation of the applicant by getting him arrested etc. The Supreme Court of India in Gurbax Singh Sebia v. State of Punjab – (1980) 2 SCC 565 has held that “In regard to anticipatory bail, if the proposed accusation appears to stem from motives not of furthering the ends of justice but from some other ulterior motive, the object being to injure and humiliate the applicant by having him arrested, a direction for the release of the applicant on bail in the event of arrest would generally be made.”

In the above example, X’s bail application was heard, but the Judge was hesitant in granting his prayer for anticipatory bail. Despite cogent arguments and pleadings, the judge was not entirely convinced. The Judge then stated that he would be inclined to pass an order directing the police to inform X and his counsel incase a FIR is registered based on the said complaint. The Judge added that he would also direct the police to not arrest X for at least 7 days from registration of the FIR. X’s counsel was amenable to such a direction and prayed that the judge may record the same in his order. This alleviated X’s apprehension of arrest and also gave him the option to move court again in the future, if so required.

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Ansh Singh Luthra

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