Anticipatory bail should not to be limited by time: SC

Anticipatory bail should not to be limited by time, rules Supreme Court

Supreme Court of India. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that anticipatory bail granted to accused on apprehension or threat of arrest should not be restricted by time, saying it was not in larger societal interest to limit the power related to liberty of citizens. It said such pre-arrest bail can continue even till the end of the trial.

Anticipatory bail does not end when the accused is summoned by the court. However, it is open for a court to make it conditional, a five-judge bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra said.

The five-judge bench unanimously held that the relief of advance bail, however, does not restrict the power of the police to investigate an offence.

While granting pre-arrest bail, role of accused persons, likelihood of them tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses should be considered, among others. The conditions for such bail could vary from case-to-case. Such limiting conditions should not invariably be imposed, the court added.

Justice M R Shah passed the lead judgement in concurrence with the bench, while Justice S Ravindra Bhat passed his own judgement.

Justice Bhat said Parliament has not curtailed the power of the court on pre-arrest bail. So, it is not in larger interest of society to limit this power. Rights of citizens against likelihood of arbitrary and heavy-handed arrest should be considered, he observed on the provision of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The bench, also comprising Justice Indira Banerjee and Vineet Saran, delivered the judgement on a reference made in 2018 in the case of Sushila Aggarwal and others.

The court said the application for anticipatory bail should be based on essential facts and not vague assertions, which should be evaluated by the court. It can be moved before the court even prior to registration of FIR. The court should issue a notice to the prosecutor and deal with the threat of arrest.