In this case Kumaraswamy v. State of Karnataka, a bail petition has been filed by petitioner ‘Kumaraswamy’, aged 37 years who had been charged for the offences punishable under Sections 454, 457, 380, 201, 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 115 and 23 of Karnataka Education Act, 1983 and also under Section 3(1)(ii), 3(4) and 3(5) of Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Act, 2000 (KCOC Act).
Facts of the Case:
A complaint was lodged by the Joint Director (Examinations), Pre-University Board, Bengaluru, in Malleshwaram Police Station to investigate the matter, alleging that II PUC Annual Exams for the Academic Year were scheduled to be held in the month of March 2016.
However, prior to the commencement of the Exam of Chemistry subject, it came to the knowledge that a facsimile question paper of II PUC Chemistry subject was leaked and when such facsimile leaked question paper was compared with the original question paper, they both were corroborated and proving the authenticity of news of the leaked paper.
The said case was subsequently transferred from the Police Station to CID Police, where an investigation was made and found that the leaked question paper was circulated through WhatsApp of mobile Phones. After tracing the cellular mobile numbers from which the leaked question paper was propagated, it was discovered that the petitioner was involved in such activities along with others for financial gain from beneficiaries.
The money was collected from the Petitioner by the CID Police and he was remanded to judicial custody on the basis of the above complaint.
The contention of the Parties:
It was contended by the counsel on behalf of the petitioner that when the bail application was dismissed earlier, it is the duty of the trial court to expedite the trial within an outer limit of one year from the date of receipt of the copy of the said order.
However, no advancement has been made in this case and even the charges have also not been framed. It was further submitted by the counsel that more than 229 witnesses have been cited by the prosecution and more than 5000 voluminous documents have been produced, so it may consume a lot more time for the Court to hold the trial.
Also, out of 18 accused persons, 17 accused persons have already been released on bail even the prime accused in this case also.
It was presented by the counsel on behalf of the petitioner that, “if the trial is not completed within the noticeable time and no noticeable progress has been attained in the case of the prosecution, then under such circumstances, the petitioner-accused is entitled to be released on bail”.
It was questioned by the Counsel that when the main accused persons can be released on bail then why the petitioner cannot be released?
It was submitted by the Public Prosecutor that the Petitioner-accused has played an indispensable role in the supposed offence. The accused being a kingpin for the entire transaction played the main role by entering into the room of the Sub-treasury office at Hanagal and took the photograph of the original question paper for circulating the duplicate ones through WhatsApp.
If he is released on bail, then he may be indulged in a similar type of criminal activity in the future. It was further contended that earlier the bail application of the Petitioner was rejected twice by the court, hence, by merits of this case, the petitioner shall not be granted any bail in the said offence.
The reason for the delayed trial of the case is only because the other accused persons have remained absent and have been absconding and it is difficult for the Court to hold the trial in such troublesome circumstances.
Observations and Conclusion of the Court:
The Court is of the view that delay in the trial cannot be a concrete ground to release the Petitioner-accused on bail. There has been no change in circumstances and no new circumstance has been made out in this case which by merit did not avert any reasons to grant release on bail to the Petitioner-accused.
It was observed by the Court that though it is not clear from the records that whether the other 16 accused were brought by the police from the jail or they were on bail and had not appeared of their own, but the fact that complainants have not made any delay in the trial cannot be ignored. It is true that the trial was not progressing smoothly but the complainant party was in no way responsible for any delay on the trial.
The third contention of the Petitioner-accused that he has been in jail for more than 2 years is equally untenable and the equivalent cannot be considered under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for granting bail.
From the above observations, it was concluded by the Court that the Petitioner-accused shall not be granted bail because that may result in tampering of evidence or absconding of the accused which will further delay the trial. Also, the Court has directed the trial court to expedite the trial within the stipulated limit.