Advanced age of a person is no guarantee that he/ she would not indulge in criminal activities, the Punjab & Haryana High Court recently observed rejecting the anticipatory bail application of a 95-year-old person.
The court said that while there is “no doubt senior citizens are entitled to be treated with courtesy and due regard, but human greed does not accept bar of age, sex, race.”
A single-judge Bench of Justice HS Madaan rejected the pre-arrest bail application of the accused, Piara Singh who was charged under Section 420 read with Section 406 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for cheating and fraud.
The Court held that old age cannot be a valid reason to grant bail in such cases and custodial interrogation of the accused is necessary to carry ‘effective investigation‘.
“The custodial interrogation of the petitioner is found to be necessary for complete and effective investigation to find out how he had done planning of the crime and the mode of its execution, the other persons involved therein and role played by each one of them, how the amount of Rs.6,50,000/- received from the complainant was dealt with, whether it was retained entirely by the petitioner/accused or he had given share therein to his co-accused also, if so,” the order said.
The order was passed in a bail application moved by one Piara Singh (accused) aged about 95 years, under section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code for pre-arrest/anticipatory bail.
The case against Piara Singh was that he along with Manjit Singh Maruti and Sucha Singh, had cheated the opposite party/ complainant of a sum of Rs. 6,50,000 by giving false promise of facilitating his migration to America, which was later not fulfilled.
Singh contended that it was a false case, and he is “95 years old and being in evening of his life could not be expected to get involved in such type of criminal acts.”
The Court, however, said that age cannot be a factor to grant pre-arrest bail and there were facts on record which prima facie pointed to a case against him.
“Pre-arrest bail is a discretionary relief and is to be granted in exceptional cases and not in routine. It is meant to save the innocent persons from harassment and inconvenience and not to screen the culprits from arrest and custodial interrogation,” the Court said.
The Court adverted to the conduct of the accused to state that age is no guarantee of a person not indulging in criminal activities.
The Court noted that the petitioner had issued two cheques of Rs. 2 Lakh each to the complainant.
“If the accused had not received any money from the complainant, then where was the occasion to issue such cheques by him to the complainant; that rather corroborates the allegations leveled by the complainant in the FIR that he had paid a sum of Rs.6,50,000/- to the complainant. Those cheques when presented to the banker of petitioner/accused, had been dishonoured,” the court said.
While rejecting the pre-arrest bail plea, the court also relied upon the fact that the Petitioner was involved in another crime, in which he has been charged under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 365 (kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code.
“That goes to show that he has got criminal bent of mind and his credentials are not that clear, which he is projecting as a saintly figure of old age,” the Court said.
The Court accordingly dismissed the petition and observed that the case was not fit for grant of pre-arrest bail.