For the Appellants: Subhash Jha Manoj K. Mishra, advocates
For the Respondents: Sachin Patil, Rahul Chitnis, Geo Joseph, Advocates.
The appeal arises from a judgment and order of a single judge of the high court of judicature at Bombay "High Court" on 23rd July 2020. The High Court by its order which is in appeal declined to change its earlier order on 19th May 2020 to allow the appellant to travel to the US for eight weeks from 25th July 2020 to 6th September 2020. The appellant asked the leave of the high court to do so since the green card holder he needed to return to the US within the time given of his departure from that country failing which the conditions of revalidation of the green card would not be fulfilled. The high court declined to relax the conditions imposed by it for the grant of interim bail on the ground than an FIR has been registered against the appellant though the period during which the appellant sought to travel abroad has lapsed the cause survives. The appeal raises interesting problems about the interface between the fundamental rights to travel abroad and it's reduction under a judicial order as an incident to regulate conditions governing the grant of bail
The origin of the current case arises from a private complaint which was filed in January 2014 by Mehraj Rajbali Merchant in the court of the JMFC than alleging that the appellant has fabricated a power of attorney dated on 19 December 2011 by forging the signature of his brother, Shalin Lokhandwala on 10 April 2014, the JMFC passed an order by which he gave directions to an investigation under section 156(3) of the code of criminal procedure 1973 "CrPC.
The appellant arrived in India on 10th January 2020 he was arrested on 21st February 2020 at the point of departure in Mumbai in pursuance of lookout notice which appears to have been issued based on the FIR on 22nd April 2014. A bail application was filed before the sessions court in the first week of March 2020 but was denied on 4th May 2020. On 23rd April 2020, the appellant applied for bail before the high court of judicature at Bombay the high court by Its order dated on 19th May 2020 granted temporary bail to the appellant.
On 10th June 2020, the appellant filed an IA before the high court asking for permission to visit the US for eight weeks. The high court was hearing only urgent applications during lockdown occasion by the outbreak of Covid -19 the registry of the High Court informed him on 15 June 2020 and 19 June 2020 On 26th June 2020 a single judge expressed his inability to take up IA for relaxation of his conditions attached to the grant of interim bail since the order on 19 May 2020 had been passed by Justice A.S Gadkari the appellant it may be noted has contended that under the said prescription by the US immigration and Nationality Act 1952 he has to return for a short period of revalidating the Green Card.
The High Court by its order dated 26th June 2020 denied the application for considering his prayer for relaxing the conditions attaching to the grant of interim bail following which the appellant moved this Court. By the order dated 13th July 2020 the Court requested the High Court to take up the IA filed by the appellant asking for permission to travel to the US at an early date, the court in it's an order dated 13 July 2020 noted the scission of the learned counsel for the appellant.
The registry of Bombay High Court may obtain if necessary administrative directions of the hon'ble chief justice for the assignment for the interim application
Mr. Jha further submitted that the appellant would undertake to come to India on every hearing of the criminal cases before the concerned courts and there were no intentions of him to evade the process of law Mr. Jha stated that by the notice issued by the court the complaint has been served.
Mr. Sachin Patel submitted that the appellant was granted temporary bail for eight weeks by the High Court by its order on 19 May 2020 and the appellant has not furnished the surety and he has not even surrendered after the expiry of eight weeks.
Having regard to the origin of the dispute as well as the issue as to whether the appellant is likely to run away from justice if he were allowed to travel to US-based on the previous record of the appellant that there is no reason nor justification to reject him the permission which has been asked to travel to the US for eight weeks the appellant shall travel only upon the grant of permission and subject to the term imposed. The passport of the appellant will be handled to the appellant to facilitate his travel.
According to the order, the high court dated 23rd July 2020 shall be stand set aside and the appeal shall stand disposed.