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June 24, 2024

daily Legal cuurent -24 June 2024: An indefeasible right to default bail : Section 167 -CrPC

Why in News ?The Supreme court has reaffirmed that the moment the stipulated 60 or 90 day remand period, as the case may be, expires, an indefeasible right to default bail accrues to the accused.

IN a significant decision furthering the cause of personal liberty, the Supreme Court has recently held that the remand period under Section 167 (procedure when investigation cannot be completed in twenty-four hours) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) ought to be computed from the date when a magistrate authorises remand.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices K.M. Joseph, Hrishikesh Roy and B.V. Nagarathna was ruling on a petition filed by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) against the Bombay High Court’s decision granting default bail to Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd promoters Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan, in the Yes Bank money laundering case.

  • However, the Bombay High Court heldthat excluding the date of remand while computing the 60-day period was erroneous and decided that the filing of the chargesheet by the ED on July 17, 2020, being the 61st day of detention in custody, would entitle the accused to default bail.
  • The Supreme Court was thus called upon to answer whether the period of remand under the first proviso to Section 167(2)of the CrPC is inclusive of the day on which the magistrate orders remand.
  • Additional Solicitor General of India Suryaprakash V. Raju, for the ED, argued that even if the period of 60 days as stipulated under the first proviso to Section 167(2) expired on July 12, 2020, the same being a Sunday, the provisions of Section 10 (computation of time) of the General Clauses Act, 1897would come into play and as such the 60 day period, which expired on Sunday, would stand extended to the next day of Monday, that is, July 13, 2020.
  • The bench rejected the argument of the ED, relying upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Chaganti Satyanarayan versus State of Andhra Pradesh (1986) in which it was held that the proviso (a), in reference to the total period of detention, can be interpreted on the plain language of the proviso itself, being a complete code on its own, making it wholly unnecessary to invoke the provisions of the General Clauses Act or the Limitation Act, 1963.

What is indefeasible right to default bail?

  • In some jurisdictions, the law grants an accused person an “indefeasible right to default bail” after a certain period of time in custody without charges being filed. This means that once the set timeframe (usually 60 or 90 days) for investigation has passed, the accused has a strong legal right to be released on bail, regardless of the merits of the case against them.

India-Specific Context:

This concept of “indefeasible right to default bail” applies primarily in India’s legal system. It stems from Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Right to Default Bail:

  • The accused has the right to be released on bail if the investigating agency fails to complete the investigation and file a chargesheet within the stipulated period (usually 60 days, with exceptions for some cases extending it to 90 days).

Indefeasible Right:

  • The Supreme Court has interpreted this right as “indefeasible,” meaning it cannot be easily taken away. Once the time period lapses, the right accrues to the accused.

 Key Points:

  • This right is not absolute. The accused must file an application for default bail to claim it.
  • Filing a chargesheet after the deadline can extinguish the right if the application isn’t filed beforehand.
  • The court can still consider other factors during the bail hearing, even with default bail.

About Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC):

Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)  of India deals with the procedure to be followed when an investigation cannot be completed within 24 hours.

Scope of Section 167 CrPC:

Section 167 CrPC provides the legal framework for the detention of an accused person when the investigation is incomplete and the police require additional time to gather evidence. The key aspects of this section are:

  1. Initial Detention Period: When a person is arrested and detained in custody, and it appears that the investigation cannot be completed within the 24 hours mandated by Section 57, the police must present the accused before a magistrate.
  2. Authorization for Further Detention: The magistrate can authorize the detention of the accused beyond the initial 24 hours, provided the police officer submits a case diary and requests further custody for the investigation.
  3. Maximum Period of Detention:
  • For offenses punishable with death, life imprisonment, or a term of not less than 10 years, the maximum period of detention is 90 days.
  • For all other offenses, the maximum period of detention is 60 days.
  • After these periods, if the investigation remains incomplete and no charges have been filed, the accused must be released on bail if they are prepared to and do furnish bail.
  1. Judicial Oversight: The magistrate must examine the case diary and other relevant documents to ensure that the request for further detention is justified. This ensures judicial oversight over the detention process.

Important Judicial Interpretations

Several landmark judgments have interpreted and elucidated the provisions of Section 167 CrPC:

1. State of Maharashtra v. Shyam Sunder Tripathi (1977)

The Supreme Court emphasized that the detention beyond the initial 24 hours must be strictly in accordance with the procedure established by law and subject to judicial scrutiny.

2. C.B.I. v. Anupam J. Kulkarni (1992)

The Supreme Court clarified that the initial period of detention (15 days) could be in police custody, but any subsequent detention must be in judicial custody. This ensures that the accused is not unduly harassed or coerced by the police.

3. Uday Mohanlal Acharya v. State of Maharashtra (2001)

The Supreme Court ruled that if the charge sheet is not filed within the stipulated period (60 or 90 days), the accused is entitled to bail as a matter of right, and this right cannot be defeated by subsequently filing the charge sheet before the bail is granted.

4. Rakesh Kumar Paul v. State of Assam (2017)

The Court reiterated that the right to statutory bail under Section 167(2) CrPC is an indefeasible right of the accused and must be granted if the investigation is not completed within the prescribed period.




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