The right to statutory bail, also known as default bail, is available to accused persons in cases when the investigating agency fails to complete its investigation within the stipulated time. Recently a supreme court judgment regarding default bail has sparked debate. Read here to know the implications of the judgment.
The supreme court of India recently recalled its own decision in the Ritu Chhabaria vs Union of India in favor of the investigating agencies as argued by the Solicitor General of India.
The Supreme Court made it clear that judges might set default bail without consulting or relying on the Ritu Chhabaria ruling.
However, the Court’s decision to suspend defendants’ rights in criminal proceedings would cause further erosion of the accused’s constitutional rights and depart from key norms of the criminal process.
Accused parties have the option of statutory bail, also known as default bail if the investigating agency does not finish its investigation within the allotted time frame.
- The maximum period allotted to investigators is 60 or 90 days under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), depending on how severe the offense was.
- The accused can petition for default bail under the first proviso of Section 167(2) of the CrPC to be freed from detention if the authorities cannot finish the investigation within this time frame.
- Notably, the bail’s ‘default’ aspect results from the fact that the application has nothing to do with the case’s merits and is just intended to keep the accused out of jail for a short period.
The relief of default bail is different from bail obtained in a normal course under Sections 437, 438, and 439 of the CrPC.
The provision of default bail in the CrPC keeps a check and maintains a balance between the arbitrary exercise of power by the police and the right of an accused person.
The default bail is linked to Article 21 of the constitution, the fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
- The accused is deemed to have exercised the right to release on default bail once he or she submits a section 167(2) bail application.
- Only once the allotted window of time for the inquiry has passed does this right take effect.
- As long as the accused has applied for such bail, the right to be freed on default bail is enforceable.
- It makes no difference if the accused applies for default bail while the bail application is still underway or if the charge sheet is filed later.
The default bail is not applicable if-
- The accused fails to apply for it after the investigation period has passed and the investigating agency files a charge sheet or requests extra time before the accused makes such an application.
- The Magistrate might then extend the deadline for the investigation’s conclusion.
- However, by other legal requirements of the Code, the accused may still be freed on bond.
It is crucial to remember that even if the court granted default bail, the accused person’s actual release from detention depends on the court’s rulings. The accused will remain in detention if they don’t provide the required bail money or follow the bail order’s rules and requirements as set down by the court.
Ritu Chhabaria case
In the Ritu Chhabaria judgment, the court held that “the right of default bail under Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is not merely a statutory right, but a fundamental right that flows from Article 21 of the Constitution” to protect accused persons from the “unfettered and arbitrary power of the State”.
The court ruled that the accused’s right to default bail would not be violated by an incomplete chargesheet submitted by the investigating agency without a thorough investigation.
Advantages and disadvantages of default bail
- It makes sure that those who have been charged with a crime but have not been found guilty are not held indefinitely until their trial.
- It safeguards against a person’s liberty being taken away without adequate proof and a proper hearing, upholding the ideals of justice and fairness.
- It assists those who are accused in remaining in their communities for rehabilitation and reintegration while continuing to work and provide for their families, raising the likelihood that they would successfully reintegrate if found not guilty.
- It stops authorities from unlawfully detaining people without providing them with proof or filing false accusations within a reasonable amount of time.
- It enables the court to determine whether further detention is necessary depending on the prosecution’s capacity to provide evidence within the allotted time limit.
- It results in the more effective use of prison mitigating overcrowding.
- If the accused poses a risk to society or is possibly dangerous, granting bail may be risky. It may jeopardize public security and obstruct efficient law enforcement.
- It can make it more difficult to acquire further evidence or make it more difficult for the prosecution to present a compelling case if the accused is released on default bail without charges being brought.
- Granting default bail may interfere with victims’ rights to prompt justice and may give the impression that different parties in the case are being treated unfairly or unequally.
Types of Bail in India
Based on the types of criminal act, four types of bail includes Regular Bail, Interim Bail, Anticipatory Bail, and Default Bail.
- Regular bail: An individual who has previously been arrested and held by police is usually granted regular bail. Under Sections 437 and 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the accused has a right to be released from such solitary detention. Therefore, a standard bail is just the release of an accused person from custody to guarantee his appearance at the trial.
- Interim bail: Short-term bail is known as interim bail. An accused person is given interim bail before the hearing for regular or anticipatory bail.
- Anticipatory bail: A person may request anticipatory bail if they believe they will be detained for a crime for which bail is not permitted. This issue has grown in importance in recent years as a result of the frequent attempts made by influential individuals and business rivals to falsely accuse and defame their rivals. Getting advance bail under Section 438 of the CrPC is comparable to doing so.
- Statutory bail: It is commonly referred to as default bail, and is an alternative to bail acquired through the regular court process by CrPC Sections 437, 438, and 439. Statutory bail, as the name suggests, is granted when the police or investigating agency fails to submit their report or complaint within a particular time.
A balance needs to be struck between the rights of the accused and the smooth conduct of the investigation. The existing system may be revised based on case complexity rather than having a blanket system for all.
-Article written by Swathi Satish