This court holds that the protection granted to a person under Section 438 CrPC should not invariably be limited to a fixed period.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that grant of pre-arrest or anticipatory bail to an accused apprehending arrest should not “invariable” be saddled with any time frame as it refused to interfere with the scheme under the Code Criminal Procedure as framed by the parliament.
“This court holds that the protection granted to a person under Section 438 CrPC should not invariably be limited to a fixed period. It should inure in favour of the accused without any restriction on time,” said a five-judge Constitution Bench of justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M.R.Shah and S. Ravindra Bhat.
Having held that no time limit could be attached to the grant of anticipatory bail, the Bench in its conclusion said, “Normal conditions under Section 437 (3) read with Section 438 (2) should be imposed. If there are specific facts or features in regard to any offence, it is open for the court to impose any appropriate condition (including fixed nature of relief, or its be8ing tied to a event.”
“The specter of arbitrary and heavy-handed arrests: too often, to harass and humiliate citizens, and oftentimes, at the interest of powerful individuals (and not to further any meaningful investigation into offences) led to the enactment of Section 438”, Justice Bhat said in his separate but concurring judgment.
The top court constitution bench said this while answering a reference whether protection granted to a person under Section 438 CrPC should be limited to a fixed period so as to enable the person to surrender before the trial court and seek regular bail.
The other question referred to the constitution bench was whether the life of an anticipatory bail should end at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court.
Answering the second question under reference, the court said, “The life or duration of an anticipatory bail order does not end normally at the time and stage when the accused is summoned the court or charges are framed, but can continue till the end of the trial.”
However, the Supreme Court said, “if there are any special or peculiar features necessitating the court to limit the te-nure of anticipatory bail, it is open for it to do so”.