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Courts can hear pleas seeking default bail over non-filing of charge sheets: SC

  • Published
    13th May, 2023
Context

The Supreme Court, in a rather unusual order, directed trial courts and high courts to decide pending default bail applications in criminal cases without relying on its own judgment (recent Ritu Chhabaria judgment).

Background
  • The April 26 judgment in Ritu Chhabaria versus Union of Indiahad held that central agencies cannot deny accused persons their right to default bail by filing multiple supplementary chargesheets and seeking renewed custody.
  • The judgment 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”.

What is Default Bail?

  • Default bail is granted on the default of the police or investigating agency to file its report/complaint within a specific prescribed period of time.
  • According to Section 167(2) CrPC, an accused is entitled to default bail if the investigating agency failed to file a final chargesheet within 60 days from the date of remand.
    • For certain categories of offences, the stipulated period can be extended to 90 days.
  • The relief of default bail is different from bail obtained in normal course under Sections 437438and 439 of the CrPC.
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