In a significant move, the Honorable HP High Court recently granted bail to a Rape accused who had been suffering from grave mental health issues. The accused had been incarcerated for luring and subsequently raping a minor girl.

Criticizing the stigma associated with mental health, the bench comprising Justice Anoop Chitkara held in the order,

“The fact that the accused is being given treatment in PGI Chandigarh, which is a renowned institution, itself, shows the seriousness of his illness. Furthermore, there is a tendency amongst the people and the society not to treat the mental problem as illness and, thus, either ignore it or go for religious remedies. The petitioner, who is suffering from serious mental illness, cannot be left at this stage in the prison. So when his family has undertaken to give treatment on this own. On this ground, the petitioner is entitled to bail.”

In this matter, the bail application had been filed by the accused Ajay, who was charged with the offence of rape. Previously, the Court had denied granting him bail on merits. However, in the present situation, the applicant moved the court for accepting his bail application citing mental illness.

The accused is believed to have raped a minor girl luring her with a false promise of marriage. Following the incident, he forbade the rape survivor from disclosing it to any person. Moreover, he promised to visit the girl’s family and discuss marriage the day after the incident. However, the accused fled and never attempted to contact the girl.

Subsequently, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged under Section 363 (punishment for kidnapping), Section 376 (Rape), of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Protection of and against the accused. The accused was arrested under Section 173(2) of Crpc.

On examining the seriousness of the accused’s mental illness, the State could not disregard the same. It also mentioned that the applicant has been currently undergoing treatment from PGI Chandigarh from the Department of Psychiatry.

Thereupon the Court allowed the bail to the accused person stating that the proviso to Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) specifies that for offences punishable with life imprisonment or the death penalty, the Court if it deems necessary, has been conferred with authority release a sick person on bail.

Section 437 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 reads: When any person accused of or suspected of, the commission of any non-bailable offence is arrested or detained without warrant by an officer in charge of a police station or appears or is brought before a Court other than the High Court or Court of Session, he may be released on bail Provided that the Court may direct that a person be released on bail if such person is under the age of sixteen years or is a woman or is sick or infirm.

However, the Court granted the bail to the accused subject to the following conditions-

1.The petitioner is forbidden from staring, stalking, making any kind of gestures, remarks, call, contact, message the victim, either physically, or through phone calls or any other social media, nor be present at the victim’s home.

2.The petitioner is directed to remain far away from the place of occurrence while released on bail. Hence, the petitioner is not allowed to enter within a radius of one kilometre from the girl’s house.

3.The petitioner is also required to furnish a personal bond of ₹10,000 and either two sureties of ₹25,000 each or a fixed deposit for ₹10,000.

Case Title- Ajay Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh

This article has been written by Sayali Phanse

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