The Supreme Court on June 11, 2019, in the case of M.D. Dhanapal v. State Rep. By The Inspector of Police, has held that bail cannot be made conditional upon heavy deposit beyond the financial capacity of an applicant.
The Bench comprising of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi was hearing special leave petitions filed by M.D. Dhanapal, who was the Chief Priest of a temple in Thiruchirappalli district in Tamil Nadu, where seven pilgrims had died on April 21, 2019, in a stampede. He was arrested by police pursuant to an FIR registered for the mishap.
Subsequently, he was released on bail by the Madras High Court on a condition that he would pay ten lakh rupees each to the families of the deceased persons. Aggrieved by the onerous condition of having to pay a total amount of rupees seventy lakhs to the heirs of the dead pilgrims, the Chief Priest moved the Supreme Court.
On hearing the matter, the court observed that the High Court passed the impugned order after the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner had offered to pay rupees ten lakhs to the legal heirs of each of the deceased pilgrims.
However, in the application filed before the apex court, the Chief Priest contended that he does not have the requisite funds as he was rendering devotional services in a relatively small Temple at Tiruchirapalli, with little income.
The Bench taking into consideration the submission made observed that “If the petitioner lacks funds, undertaking ought not to have been given. Be that as it may, it is well settled that bail cannot be made conditional upon heavy deposits beyond the financial capacity of an applicant for bail.”
On perusal of the FIR registered in the case, the Bench also noted that the petitioner was not named in the FIR and that it does not appear that the petitioner was responsible for the death of the pilgrims.
Thus, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, the court waived the condition of making payment and directed the Judicial Magistrate to grant bail on conditions as he may deem fit to his satisfaction.
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