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Holding that trial courts were bound to hear victims of sexual offences before granting bail to the accused, the Delhi High Court has directed its Registrar General to again circulate the Practice Directions issued in this regard, to all the District & Sessions Judges for their compliance. (Miss G vs State)
The order was passed by a Single judge Bench of Justice Brijesh Sethi.
The Petition was preferred by a minor victim through her mother, in connection with a FIR for the offences under Section 376 IPC and Section 4 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
The Petitioner’s grievance was directed against a trial court order which released the accused on interim bail for one month without issuance of notice of the application.
The counsel for the Petitioner contended the trial court extended interim bail to the accused in a routine manner, without complying with the law.
It was stated that the order suffered from a procedural lapse as it was done without issuance of notice to the complainant of FIR/mother, thereby, denying the opportunity of being heard.
The counsel pointed out that in terms of the amended Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the presence of the informant or any person authorized, was obligatory at the time of hearing of the application for bail to the person under Sections 376/ 376(3)/ 376-AB/ 376-DA and 376-DB IPC.
The Practice Directions issued by the High Court mandating notice of the bail application of accused to the victim or any person authorized on her behalf, were also brought to the Court’s notice.
The counsel further submitted that as per the order passed by a Division Bench of the Court in Reena Jha & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors, these practice directions were extended to POCSO Act cases and a direction was also issued to the District Judges, National Commission for Protection of Children Rights and State Commission for Protection of Children Rights to strictly comply with the same.
The Petitioner's counsel asserted that district courts were passing bail orders without adhering to these mandatory requirements, in utter violation of the directions.
Seeking a direction to set aside the interim bail to accused in the present case, the counsel informed the Court that victim and her family lived in the vicinity of the accused and enlargement of accused on interim bail was a threat to their lives.
State, on the other hand, submitted that directions were being followed in its true letter and spirit.
After hearing the parties and the perusing the trial court order, the Court noted that interim bail was indeed granted in the presence of the Additional Public Prosecutor but without informing the complainant, who is the mother of the victim in this case.
The Court further stated that the trial courts were bound to follow the Practice Directions issued by the High Court and directions issued in Reena Jha.
Thus, taking into account the Petitioner’s submission that these directions were, in fact, not being followed, the Court ordered,
The Court issued notice in the petition to the State and also extended police protection to the victim/complainant from the accused.
The petitioner was represented by Advocate Tara Narula.
APP Meenakshi Dahiya appeared for State.
Read the Order: