“Any person, who is declared as an ‘absconder’ and remains out of reach of the investigating agency and thereby stands directly at conflict with law, ordinarily, deserves no concession or indulgence…” said the Supreme Court while rejecting an appeal by one Abhishek Singh, challenging the sanctioning of his prosecution under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) after declaring him an absconder.
A division bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose, on May 20, dismissed the appeal filed by Singh observing that when an accused is absconding and declared a proclaimed offender, there is no question of giving him the benefit of CrPC section 438 (granting pre- arrest bail to a person apprehending arrest).
The SC also said that Singh’s arguments for “consideration of his case” because of application of stringent provisions “impinging his fundamental rights” does not take away the “impact of the blameworthy conduct” of Singh. “Any claim towards fundamental rights also cannot be justifiably made without the person concerned himself adhering to and submitting to the process of law,” said SC in its 46-page judgment.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Singh challenging the order of the Nagpur bench of HC rejecting his petition wherein he had challenged the order of the additional director general of police and the commissioner of police, Nagpur City, sanctioning his prosecution and that of five others under various sections of the MCOCA for varying offences.
Singh was granted interim pre-arrest bail by the sessions court. However, when MCOCA was invoked against him in June 2020, the sessions court rejected his pre-arrest bail plea. As he remained “out of reach”, a proclamation was issued against him and was declared an absconder.
This he challenged before the high court, which refused to grant him any relief. He then approached the SC.
One of the grounds taken by Singh before the SC for challenging MCOCA was that he was acquitted in one of the cases cited for booking him under the stringent act. The witnesses had either turned hostile or not appeared before the trial court.
The prosecution argued that “MCOCA seeks to curb such menace, where a criminal case cannot be taken to its logical conclusion because of the witnesses either turning hostile or not turning up at all”.
“As noticed, all the contentions urged on behalf of the appellant remain baseless and the challenge herein ought to fail. Thus, we need not say any more in the present case as regards the effect of absconsion,” observed the SC while dismissing the appeal.