Saturday, 17 August 2019

Landmark Supreme court judgment No 2 on Anticipatory bail


118. A good deal of misunderstanding with regard to the ambit and scope of Section 438 Code of Criminal Procedure could have been avoided in case the Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Sibbia's case (supra) was correctly understood, appreciated and applied.

119. This Court in the Sibbia's case (supra) laid down the following principles with regard to anticipatory bail:

a) Section 438(1) is to be interpreted in light of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

b) Filing of FIR is not a condition precedent to exercise of power under Section 438.

c) Order under Section 438 would not affect the right of police to conduct investigation.

d) Conditions mentioned in Section 437 cannot be read into Section 438.

e) Although the power to release on anticipatory bail can be described as of an "extraordinary" character this would "not justify the conclusion that the power must be exercised in exceptional cases only." Powers are discretionary to be exercised in light of the circumstances of each case.

f) Initial order can be passed without notice to the Public Prosecutor. Thereafter, notice must be issued forthwith and question ought to be re-examined after hearing. Such ad interim order must conform to requirements of the section and suitable conditions should be imposed on the applicant.

120. The Law Commission in July 2002 has severely criticized the police of our country for the arbitrary use of power of arrest which, the Commission said, is the result of the vast discretionary powers conferred upon them by this Code. The Commission expressed concern that there is no internal mechanism within the police department to prevent misuse of law in this manner and the stark reality that complaint lodged in this regard does not bring any result. The Commission intends to suggest amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code and has invited suggestions from various quarters. Reference is made in this Article to the 41st Report of the Law Commission wherein the Commission saw 'no justification' to require a person to submit to custody, remain in prison for some days and then apply for bail even when there are reasonable grounds for holding that the person accused of an offence is not likely to abscond or otherwise misuse his liberty. Discretionary power to order anticipatory bail is required to be exercised keeping in mind these sentiments and spirit of the judgments of this Court in Sibbia's case (supra) and Joginder Kumar v. State of U.P. and Ors. MANU/SC/0311/1994 : (1994) 4 SCC 260.

Relevant consideration for exercise of the power

121. No inflexible guidelines or straitjacket formula can be provided for grant or refusal of anticipatory bail. We are clearly of the view that no attempt should be made to provide rigid and inflexible guidelines in this respect because all circumstances and situations of future cannot be clearly visualized for the grant or refusal of anticipatory bail. In consonance with the legislative intention the grant or refusal of anticipatory bail should necessarily depend on facts and circumstances of each case. As aptly observed in the Constitution Bench decision in Sibbia's case (supra) that the High Court or the Court of Sessions to exercise their jurisdiction under Section 438 Code of Criminal Procedure by a wise and careful use of their discretion which by their long training and experience they are ideally suited to do. In any event, this is the legislative mandate which we are bound to respect and honour.

122. The following factors and parameters can be taken into consideration while dealing with the anticipatory bail:

i. The nature and gravity of the accusation and the exact role of the accused must be properly comprehended before arrest is made;

ii. The antecedents of the applicant including the fact as to whether the accused has previously undergone imprisonment on conviction by a Court in respect of any cognizable offence;

iii. The possibility of the applicant to flee from justice;

iv. The possibility of the accused's likelihood to repeat similar or the other offences.

v. Where the accusations have been made only with the object of injuring or humiliating the applicant by arresting him or her.

vi. Impact of grant of anticipatory bail particularly in cases of large magnitude affecting a very large number of people.

vii. The courts must evaluate the entire available material against the accused very carefully. The court must also clearly comprehend the exact role of the accused in the case. The cases in which accused is implicated with the help of Sections 34 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code, the court should consider with even greater care and caution because over implication in the cases is a matter of common knowledge and concern;

viii. While considering the prayer for grant of anticipatory bail, a balance has to be struck between two factors namely, no prejudice should be caused to the free, fair and full investigation and there should be prevention of harassment, humiliation and unjustified detention of the accused;

ix. The court to consider reasonable apprehension of tampering of the witness or apprehension of threat to the complainant;

x. Frivolity in prosecution should always be considered and it is only the element of genuineness that shall have to be considered in the matter of grant of bail and in the event of there being some doubt as to the genuineness of the prosecution, in the normal course of events, the accused is entitled to an order of bail.

123. The arrest should be the last option and it should be restricted to those exceptional cases where arresting the accused is imperative in the facts and circumstances of that case.

124. The court must carefully examine the entire available record and particularly the allegations which have been directly attributed to the accused and these allegations are corroborated by other material and circumstances on record.

125. These are some of the factors which should be taken into consideration while deciding the anticipatory bail applications. These factors are by no means exhaustive but they are only illustrative in nature because it is difficult to clearly visualize all situations and circumstances in which a person may pray for anticipatory bail. If a wise discretion is exercised by the concerned judge, after consideration of entire material on record then most of the grievances in favour of grant of or refusal of bail will be taken care of. The legislature in its wisdom has entrusted the power to exercise this jurisdiction only to the judges of the superior courts. In consonance with the legislative intention we should accept the fact that the discretion would be properly exercised. In any event, the option of approaching the superior court against the court of Sessions or the High Court is always available.


Criminal Appeal No. 2271 of 2010 

Decided On: 02.12.2010

 Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Dalveer Bhandari and K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan, JJ.

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