Denial of bail by trial courts in bailable offences irks SHC

November 30, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has taken exception to trial courts denying bail to applicants in cases of bailable offences. The court said that a person’s liberty should not be infringed upon arbitrarily or without reason.

The observation came during the hearing of the bail application of one Abdul Karim, who had been booked under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and the Customs Act but had been denied bail by the trial court despite the case being of a bailable offence.

This image shows the building of the Sindh High Court in Karachi. — Facebook/Sindh High Court Bar Association Karachi

A single SHC bench headed by Justice Omar Sial said that some trial courts have surprisingly denied bail to applicants even in cases of bailable offences.

The bench said that such denial of bail in bailable offences burdens the high court apart from draining the state exchequer and increasing the litigants’ expenses.

This is neither fair to a person nor in compliance with the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court on granting bail in cases falling within the non-prohibitory clause of Section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Court, added the bench.

The court said that it has been noticed that the principles enunciated by the SC in bail cases are not complied with, and bail in bailable cases have been denied by the trial courts.

The bench directed the trial courts to strictly comply with the orders of the SC while deciding the bail applications in bailable offences, and evaluate the bail applications in the light of these principles. The court said bail should only be denied in accordance with the law.

The court also said that sufficient room has been allowed in the precedent of the SC to deny bail in cases falling under the non-prohibitory clause, but the courts should ensure that they give reasons to drift from those principles.

The federal law officer had said the applicant had made payments to foreign sellers through informal and parallel banking channels and had receipts of purchases of mobile phones and tablets as well as incriminating messages on his social media account regarding the purchases.

The bench said evidence that would stand the test of legal scrutiny are yet to be obtained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The content of the FIR seems to reflect that the applicant paid Pakistani rupees to specific suppliers, whose details are mentioned in the FIR, added the bench.

The court said that no apprehension of the applicant being a flight risk has been raised by the FIA, and the law enforcement agencies have already taken the electronic goods and foreign currency into their possession.

The bench said that there seems no exceptional grounds to deny the applicant bail because the investigation has been completed, and the chances of the applicant tinkering with the evidence are also low. The court granted bail to the applicant with a surety of Rs500,000 to the satisfaction of the trial court.