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Supreme Court on Anticipatory Bail -IV

The Honourable Supreme Court while dealing with every minute aspect of Section 438 Cr.P.C read with Aricle 21 of the Constritution had concluded that 

GRANT OF BAIL FOR LIMITED PERIOD IS CONTRARY TO THE LEGISLATIVE INTENTION AND LAW DECLARED BY THE CONSTITUTION BENCH:

While concluding the aforesaid it had observed the following  in the matter of Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra and Others-(2011) 1 SCC 694,,
105. The court which grants the bail has the right to cancel the bail according to the provisions of the General Clauses Act but ordinarily after hearing the public prosecutor when the bail order is confirmed then the benefit of the grant of the bail should continue till the end of the trial of that case.
106. The judgment in Salauddin Abdulsamad Shaikh (supra) is contrary to legislative intent and the spirit of the very provisions of the anticipatory bail itself and has resulted in an artificial and unreasonable restriction on the scope of enactment contrary to the legislative intention.

107. The restriction on the provision of anticipatory bail under section 438 Cr.P.C. limits the personal liberty of the accused granted under Article 21 of the constitution. The added observation is nowhere found in the enactment and bringing in restrictions which are not found in the enactment is again an unreasonable restriction. It would not stand the test of fairness and reasonableness which is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution after the decision in Maneka Gandhi’s case (supra) in which the court observed that in order to meet the challenge of Article 21of the Constitution the procedure established by law for depriving a person of his liberty must be fair, just and reasonable.

108. Section 438 Cr.P.C. does not mention anything about the duration to which a direction for release on bail in the event of arrest can be granted. The order granting anticipatory bail is a direction specifically to release the accused on bail in the event of his arrest. Once such a direction of anticipatory bail is executed by the accused and he is released on bail, the concerned court would be fully justified in imposing conditions including direction of joining investigation.
109. The court does not use the expression `anticipatory bail’ but it provides for issuance of direction for the release on bail by the High Court or the Court of Sessions in the event of arrest. According to the aforesaid judgment of Salauddin’s case, the accused has to surrender before the trial court and only thereafter he/she can make prayer for grant of bail by the trial court. The trial court would release the accused only after he has surrendered.
110. In pursuance to the order of the Court of Sessions or the High Court, once the accused is released on bail by the trial court, then it would be unreasonable to compel the accused to surrender before the trial court and again apply for regular bail.
111. The court must bear in mind that at times the applicant would approach the court for grant of anticipatory bail on mere apprehension of being arrested on accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence. In fact, the investigating or concerned agency may not otherwise arrest that applicant who has applied for anticipatory bail but just because he makes an application before the court and gets the relief from the court for a limited period and thereafter he has to surrender before the trial court and only thereafter his bail application can be considered and life of anticipatory bail comes to an end. This may lead to disastrous and unfortunate consequences. The applicant who may not have otherwise lost his liberty loses it because he chose to file application of anticipatory bail on mere apprehension of being arrested on accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence. No arrest should be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so. The existence of power to arrest is one thing and the justification for the exercise of it is quite another. The police officer must be able to justify the arrest apart from his power to do so. This finding of the said judgment (supra) is contrary to the legislative intention and law which has been declared by a Constitution Bench of this court in Sibbia’s case (supra).

112. The validity of the restrictions imposed by the Apex Court, namely, that the accused released on anticipatory bail must submit himself to custody and only thereafter can apply for regular bail. This is contrary to the basic intention and spirit of section 438 Cr.P.C. It is also contrary to Article 21 of the Constitution. The test of fairness and reasonableness is implicit under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Directing the accused to surrender to custody after the limited period amounts to deprivation of his personal liberty.

113. It is a settled legal position crystallized by the Constitution Bench of this court in Sibbia’s case (supra) that the courts should not impose restrictions on the ambit and scope of section 438Cr.P.C. which are not envisaged by the Legislature. The court cannot rewrite the provision of the statute in the garb of interpreting it.
114. It is unreasonable to lay down strict, inflexible and rigid rules for exercise of such discretion by limiting the period of which an order under this section could be granted. We deem it appropriate to reproduce some observations of the judgment of the Constitution Bench of this court in the Sibbia’s case (supra).
“The validity of that section must accordingly be examined by the test of fairness and reasonableness which is implicit in Article 21. If the legislature itself were to impose an unreasonable restriction on the grant of anticipatory bail, such a restriction could have been struck down as being violative of Article 21.
Therefore, while determining the scope of Section 438, the court should not impose any unfair orunreasonable limitation on the individual’s right to obtain an order of anticipatory bail. Imposition of an unfair or unreasonable limitation, according to the learned Counsel, would be violative of Article 21, irrespective of whether it is imposed by legislation or by judicial decision.
xxx xxx xxx Clause (1) of Section 438 is couched in terms, broad and unqualified. By any known canon of construction, words of width and amplitude ought not generally to be cut down so as to read into the language of the statute restraints and conditions which the legislature itself did not think it proper or necessary to impose. This is especially true when the statutory provision which falls for consideration is designed to secure a valuable right like the right to personal freedom and involves the application of a presumption as salutary and deep grained in our criminal jurisprudence as the presumption of innocence.”
xxx xxx xxx “I desire in the first instance to point out that the discretion given by the section is very wide. . . Now it seems to me that when the Act is so expressed to provide a wide discretion, … it is not advisable to lay down any rigid rules for guiding that discretion. I do not doubt that the rules enunciated by the Master of the Rolls in the present case are useful maxims in general, and that in general they reflect the point of view from which judges would regard an application for relief. But I think it ought to be distinctly understood that there may be cases in which any or all of them may be disregarded. If it were otherwise, the free discretion given by the statute would be fettered by limitations which have nowhere been enacted. It is one thing to decide what is the true meaning of the language contained in an Act of Parliament. It is quite a different thing to placeconditions upon a free discretion entrusted by statute to the court where the conditions are not based upon statutory enactment at all. It is not safe, I think, to say that the court must and will always insist upon certain things when the Act does not require them, and the facts of some unforeseen case may make the court wish it had kept a free hand.”
xxx xxx xxx “The concern of the courts generally is to preserve their discretion without meaning to abuse it. It will be strange if we exhibit concern to stultify the discretion conferred upon the courts by law.”
115. The Apex Court in Salauddin’s case (supra) held that anticipatory bail should be granted only for a limited period and on the expiry of that duration it should be left to the regular court to deal with the matter is not the correct view. The reasons quoted in the said judgment is that anticipatory bail is granted at a stage when an investigation is incomplete and the court is not informed about the nature of evidence against the alleged offender.
116. The said reason would not be right as the restriction is not seen in the enactment and bail orders by the High Court and Sessions Court are granted under sections 437 and 439 also at such stages and they are granted till the trial.
117. The view expressed by this Court in all the above referred judgments have to be reviewed and once the anticipatory bail is granted then the protection should ordinarily be available till the end of the trial unless the interim protection by way of the grant of anticipatory bail is curtailed when the anticipatory bail granted by the court is cancelled by the court on finding fresh material or circumstances or on the ground of abuse of the indulgence by the accused.

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