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June 19, 2024

Daily Legal Current -19 June 2024 : Is Revision Under S.397 CrPC Maintainable Against Default Bail Order?

Why in News?The Supreme Court is set to consider an important question of law of whether a revision under Section 397 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, would be maintainable against an order granting default bail to the accused under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C.

The Vacation Bench, comprising Justices Sanjay Kumar and Augustine George Masih, framed the question as the Supreme Court never dealt with the issue.

The case emanated against the Delhi High Court decision wherein the High Court affirmed the Principal District & Sessions Judge’s order rejecting the Magistrate’s order granting default bail to the accused/petitioner.

The primary contention of the accused was that the revision was not maintainable against the order granting default bail to the accused. According to the accused, the order of grant of default is an interlocutory order against which no revision is maintainable under Section 397 Cr.P.C.

  • Whereas, the prosecution argued that the order granting default bail to the accused is not an interlocutory order but a final order against which a revision is maintainable.
  • The Delhi High Court upon relying on the various High Court’s Judgment ruled in favor of the prosecution by stating that the grant of Statutory Bail cannot be considered as an Interlocutory Order. It is a final order releasing the Applicant on Bail as the investigation could not be completed and the final report could not be filed within the period of 60/90 days by the prosecution.
  • Following this, the Special Leave Petitioner (Criminal) was preferred by the accused/petitioner before the Supreme Court.
  • Upon hearing counsels appeared for the petitioner, the Court issued notice to the opposite party/State and directed the prosecution to not arrest the accused till further orders.
  • Recently, the Madras High Court on the aforesaid issue also held that the dismissal of a statutory bail application under Section 167(2) of Cr.P.C., can be considered only as an intermediate order and not as an interlocutory order. Such an order can be challenged by way of filing a revision petition and the bar under Section 397(2) of Cr.P.C., will not apply to such an order.

About  Section 167(2) Cr.P.C:

Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) deals with the authority of a Magistrate in cases where an investigation cannot be completed within 24 hours.

Magistrate’s Power: When an accused person is forwarded to a Magistrate after an arrest, the Magistrate (regardless of jurisdiction) can authorize their detention for a period not exceeding 15 days in total.

Production Before Magistrate: There are two important conditions:

(a): If the accused is in police custody, the Magistrate cannot authorize detention unless the accused is personally produced before them.

(b): (This applies in specific situations) Even if the accused isn’t in police custody, the Magistrate may still require their presence for authorization.

Jurisdiction and Further Detention:

  • The Magistrate may not have jurisdiction to try the case, but they can still authorize detention for investigation.
  • If further detention is needed beyond 15 days, the Magistrate with no jurisdiction can send the accused to a Magistrate with the appropriate jurisdiction.

Extending Detention Beyond 15 Days: There’s an exception for situations where the Magistrate is satisfied there are strong reasons (adequate grounds) to extend detention. However, this extended period cannot exceed a specific limit set by law.

Special Provision for Women: For women under 18 years old, detention should be authorized in a remand home or a recognized social institution, not police custody.

About Section 397 (CrPC):

Section 397 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) empowers the High Court and Sessions Judges with revisionary powers. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

Power to Call for Records and Examination:

  • The High Court or any Sessions Judge can call for and examine the record of any proceeding before an inferior criminal court within their jurisdiction.

 Purpose of Examination:

To ensure:

  • Correctness of findings, sentences, or orders passed by the inferior court.
  • Legality of the proceedings.
  • Propriety of the findings, sentences, or orders.
  • Regularity of the proceedings followed by the inferior court.

Suspension of Sentence or Order and Release on Bail:

While calling for records, the High Court or Sessions Judge can:

  1. Suspend the execution of any sentence or order passed by the inferior court.
  2. If the accused is imprisoned, order their release on bail or their own bond pending examination of the record.
What is Default Bail Order?

A Default Bail Order refers to the release of an accused person from custody due to a delay in the investigation process. It’s based on Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in India.

Time Limits: After an arrest, the investigation typically shouldn’t exceed a specific timeframe:

60 days: for offences with a maximum punishment of up to 10 years imprisonment.

90 days: for offences with a maximum punishment of more than 10 years imprisonment.

Accused’s Right to Release: If the investigation isn’t completed and a charge sheet isn’t filed within these time limits, the accused becomes entitled to be released on bail. This is known as Default Bail.

Application Required: It’s important to note that the court won’t automatically grant Default Bail. The accused or their lawyer needs to file an application before the court requesting release on the grounds of delayed investigation.

Court’s Discretion: In some cases, the court might reject the application if they have a strong reason to believe a delay is justified (e.g., crucial evidence is being collected).

Purpose of Default Bail:

  • To protect the liberty of the accused and prevent them from being held in custody for an unreasonable period while the investigation is ongoing.
  • To incentivize law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations efficiently and complete them within the stipulated timeframes.

 

 


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