The Supreme Court (SC) has directed lower courts to independently grant default bail pleas in criminal cases if the charge sheet is not filed within the specified timeframe of 60 or 90 days. This instruction allows lower courts to exercise their discretion in granting default bail without being bound by the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Ritu Chhabaria versus Union of India (dated 26th April, 2023).
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Default Bail
- Other Types of Bail in India
- During the proceedings of an appeal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) requesting the recall of the Ritu Chhabaria judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) made specific observations.
- The Ritu Chhabaria judgment held that “the right of default bail under Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is not merely a statutory right, but a fundamental right that flows from Article 21 of the Constitution” to protect accused persons from the “unfettered and arbitrary power of the State”.
- Default Bail, also known as Statutory Bail, is a right to seek bail that arises when the police fail to complete an investigation within a specified period for a person in judicial custody.
- This right is enshrined in Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Section 167(2) of the CrPC:
- If the police are unable to complete an investigation within a specified period, a person in judicial custody has the right to apply for bail.
- When the investigation exceeds 24 hours, the police present the suspect before a magistrate who determines whether they should be held in police custody or judicial custody.
- As per Section 167(2) of the CrPC, the magistrate can order the accused person to be detained in police custody for a maximum of 15 days. If more time is required, the magistrate can authorize their detention in judicial custody, which means imprisonment. However, the accused cannot be held for more than:
- Ninety days if the investigating authority is dealing with a crime punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for at least ten years.
- Sixty days if the investigating authority is handling any other offense.
- Some special laws, such as the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, may have different time periods for investigation, such as 180 days.
- Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the default limit is 90 days only, which can be extended for an additional 90 days.
- This extension can be granted only upon a report by the Public Prosecutor, indicating the progress made in the investigation and providing reasons to justify the continued detention of the accused.
- These provisions demonstrate that the extension of time is not automatic but requires a judicial order.
Other Types of Bail in India
- Regular Bail is granted by the Court to release a person who is already under arrest and held in police custody.
- To obtain Regular Bail, a person can file an application under Section 437 and 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
- Regular Bail can be sought from any Court within the country.
- Interim Bail is a temporary and short-term bail granted by the Court while the application for Anticipatory Bail or Regular Bail is pending before a Court.
- It provides temporary relief until a final decision is made on the bail application.
- Anticipatory Bail is a direction issued by the Court to release a person on Bail even before they are arrested.
- It is granted when there is a reasonable apprehension of arrest, and the person seeks protection from arrest.
- To apply for Anticipatory Bail, a person can file an application under Section 438 of the CrPC.
- Anticipatory Bail can only be issued by the Sessions Court and High Court.
-Source: The Hindu