Calcutta HC Grants Bail To Woman Facing Trial In Multi-Core Financial Scam

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The court said that human liberty is sacrosanct, which is invaluable for a human being in any civilized society.

The Calcutta High Court recently granted bail to a woman facing trial in a multi-core financial scam while stating that bail is the rule and jail is the exception.

The division judge bench of Justices Biswaroop Chowdhury and I.P. Mukerji also said, “Human liberty is sacrosanct, which is invaluable for a human being in any civilized society.”

“When it is said that the gravity of offence would be a factor in determining whether bail is to be granted, it does not mean that the court has to adjudicate on the elements of the crime or the charges to find out its nature, extent and depth. On the basis of the charges framed, the court is only required to ascertain the nature of the crime. If the whole of the charges in the charge sheet were proved, what would be the magnitude of the crime and the sentence the accused was likely to suffer,” the court held.

Further, the court added that it is only required to assess the gravity of the offence from an assessment of the fact whether there are reasons to believe that the accused is guilty of the crime and the prima facie case against him, the magnitude of the offence on the charges levelled against him and the sentence he would undergo if those charges were proved.

The bench was hearing a criminal case resulting from a money dispute between two parties.

Around 2007, the petitioner and her husband organised an association of fraudulent individuals. The petitioner, a senior member of society and member of a respectable business family, represented members of her society as well as the general public that if they deposited money through Kankaria and the Surana group, they would obtain big returns.

The petitioner was accused of stealing crores of rupees gathered from the general people beginning in 2011. The victim of the alleged misappropriation did not register a complaint until 2020.

The petitioner had been in custody for 135 days when she had filed a bail application before the High Court on January 10, 2023. On the same day, one co-accused had been granted bail.

Earlier on October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court denied an SLP filed by the de-facto complainant challenging this bail order. The High Court, therefore, granted bail to the petitioner based on these circumstances.

As a consequence of this bail order, the State filed another SLP with the Supreme Court, which was granted. On March 2023, the Supreme Court referred the matter to the High Court after setting aside the bail order.

The present court noted, “Human liberty is most valuable to every civilized human being. Liberty includes the right and opportunity to free movement without unreasonable restrictions, the freedom to talk, to be talked to, to write, to be written to, to express views, be influenced by the expression of views, to work, eat, rest, play, recreate and do activities becoming of a civilized human being, without interference from anybody or unreasonable interference from any state authority.”

Further, the court added that if for more than 12 years, the accused had not absconded; there is little reason to believe that in the pending trial, the accused would abscond.

Furthermore, the court added, “She has surrendered her passport to the investigating agency. Furthermore, there is little scope of recovery of more evidence to convict the accused.”

Accordingly, the court directed the petitioner shall be released on bail upon furnishing a bond of Rs.10,000 with two sureties.

Lastly, the court disposed of the bail application.

Case Title: Praha Surana vs, State of West Bengal