Anticipatory bail can be suspended but not without hearing accused, SC told
Former Chairman of Jodhpur Development Authority (JDA) Rajendra Singh Solanki on Thursday told the Supreme Court that anticipatory bail granted to him by the Rajasthan High Court in a criminal case should not have been suspended without hearing him.
Solanki is a senior Congress leader and was Jodhpur Development Authority Chairman during Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's tenure and currently is Leader of Opposition in Jodhpur Municipal Corporation (JMC).
He was appointed the JDA Chairman in 2012, which he ceased to be with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming to power in the state in 2014 and Vasundhara Raje Scindia becoming the Chief Minister.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the vacation bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Navin Sinha that Solanki's arrest soon after the top court suspended the state High Court's order granting him anticipatory bail defeated the "very purpose of granting anticipatory bail".
Senior counsel Sibal said that the anticipatory bail granted to Solanki was to run through the entire duration of the trial.
Sibal appearing for Solanki said that the High Court order granting anticipatory bail can "undoubtedly be set aside in appeal, but only upon hearing the accused and that too in exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded".
Sibal raised four propositions of law for consideration by the apex court that include justification by the Rajasthan government for why the High Court order granting anticipatory bail be set aside as it was as per the principles enunciated by the apex court in its several judgments.
It could not be contended that since Solanki had been arrested following the suspension of anticipatory bail, he should be "relegated to the position requiring him to seek regular bail...", Sibal said.
He said that such a position would render the "order of anticipatory bail infructuous without reasons and without order having been set aside".
Besides Solanki, three other JDA officers -- Director (Technical) K.K. Mathur, and engineers Arun Purohit and Jagdish Chhangani -- have been named by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in a case. The three have not been arrested so far and court was told that they were evading arrest.
The ACB of the state has registered four FIRs against Solanki for alleged irregularities in four matters relating to development works, including violating rules pertaining to administrative and financial sanctions in 2013.
Solanki was granted anticipatory bail by the Rajasthan High court on April 21 and the Rajasthan government appealed against it. In the first hearing on May 2, while issuing the notice, the apex court suspended the high cour's interim order granting bail.
The apex court in its May 2 order ruled: "There shall be interim suspension of the operation of impugned judgment of the high court."
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta told the vacation bench that new material has surfaced against Solanki and he wanted to place it before the court for the continued suspension of the anticipatory bail.
At this, Sibal said that if ASG Mehta wanted to address the court on the merits of the matter, then he too would like to present his side in detail and would require time.
At this court decided to hear the matter in detail on May 29.