January 27, 2024
• In a recent development, the Supreme Court clarified that claiming default bail based on the pending investigation against other accused is not permissible. This article explores the concept of default bail, also known as statutory bail, under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). We delve into the principles governing default bail, the stipulated time frames for investigation, and the recent Supreme Court stance on its applicability.
Default Bail Overview:
• Default bail is a right granted to an accused in custody when the investigating authorities fail to complete the investigation and file the chargesheet within the mandated time frame. The CrPC delineates three types of bail: Anticipatory Bail under Section 438, Regular Bail under Section 439, and Default/Statutory Bail under Section 167(2).
Time Frame for Investigation:
• Upon arresting an individual under any act, the arresting authority must conclude the investigation within a specified period. This period is mandatory and varies based on the gravity of the offense. For instance, for offenses punishable with imprisonment up to 10 years, the investigation must be completed within 60 days of arrest.
Principles Governing Default Bail:
• Universal Right: Default bail is a right irrespective of the nature of the crime.
• Commencement of Stipulated Period: The time frame for filing the chargesheet starts from the day the accused is remanded for the first time.
• Inclusion of Custodial Period: The statutory period includes days spent in both police and judicial custody but excludes days spent in house arrest.
• Claim Requirement: The accused must claim the right to default bail.
• Timely Application: Filing an application for bail under Section 167(2) is considered enforcing the right only after the investigation time limit has expired.
• Cancellation Considerations: Default bail is not liable to be canceled post-completion of the investigation and chargesheet submission. Cancellation can only occur based on grounds similar to regular bail.
Recent Supreme Court Ruling:
• The Supreme Court’s recent clarification emphasizes that default bail cannot be sought merely on the grounds of pending investigation against other accused. It reinforces the importance of adhering to the established principles and timely enforcement of the right to default bail.
• Default bail, a crucial aspect of criminal jurisprudence, serves as a safeguard against prolonged detention without charges. Understanding the principles and recent judicial pronouncements ensures clarity on when and how this right can be invoked, providing essential protection to those in custody when investigations face delays.
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