The Supreme Court Thursday issued guidelines for granting bail after the filing of charge sheet and said trial courts are not precluded from granting interim relief considering the accused’s conduct during the probe.
A bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and MM Sundresh accepted the suggestions made by Additional Solicitor General S V Raju and senior advocate Sidharth Luthra on the issue.
The offences are put into four categories — A to D, and the guidelines have been laid down without fettering the discretion of the courts concerned and keeping in mind the statutory provisions, it said.
“We are inclined to accept the guidelines and make them a part of the order of the Court for the benefit of the Courts below,” the bench said.
The category A offences include: a) Ordinary summons at the 1st instance/including permitting appearance through Lawyer; b) If such an accused does not appear despite service of summons, then Bailable Warrant for physical appearance may be issued; c) NBW on failure to failure to appear despite issuance of Bailable Warrant.
Further, NBW may be cancelled or converted into a Bailable Warrant/Summons without insisting physical appearance of accused, if such an application is moved on behalf of the accused before execution of the NBW on an undertaking of the accused to appear physically on the next date/s of hearing.
Lastly, in category A, bail applications of such accused on appearance may be decided w/o the accused being taken in physical custody or by granting interim bail till the bail application is decided.
The guidelines were issued for “categories/Types of offences” which include offences punishable with imprisonment of seven years or less not falling in category B and D; offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for more than seven years; offences punishable under Special Acts containing stringent provisions for bail like Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Companies Act and Economic offences not covered by Special Acts.
The requisite conditions include those not arrested during investigation, cooperated throughout in the probe including appearing before Investigating Officer whenever called, the SC said.
The category would also include bail applications of such accused on appearance may be decided without the accused being taken in physical custody or by granting interim bail till the bail application is decided.
Category B and D would include appearance of the accused in Court pursuant to process issued bail application to be decided on merits.
The category C would include, “same as Category B and D with the additional condition of compliance of the provisions of Bail under NDPS, PMLA, 212(6) Companies Act 43 d(5) of UAPA, POSCO etc.”
Category A deals with both police and complaint cases.
The top court said trial Courts and High Courts will keep in mind the aforesaid guidelines while considering bail applications.
“The caveat which has been put by ASG is that where the accused have not cooperated in the investigation nor appeared before the Investigating Officers, nor answered summons when the Court feels that judicial custody of the accused is necessary for the completion of the trial, where further investigation including a possible recovery is needed, the aforesaid approach cannot give them benefit, something we agree with,” the bench said.
The top court also noted that while issuing notice to consider bail, the trial Court is not precluded from granting interim bail taking into consideration the conduct of the accused during the investigation which has not warranted arrest.
“On this aspect also we would give our imprimatur (a person’s authoritative approval) and naturally the bail application to be ultimately considered, would be guided by the statutory provisions. The suggestions of ASG which we have adopted have categorized a separate set of offences as ”economic Offences” not covered by the special Acts,” the bench said.
The top court said that in determining whether to grant bail both aspects have to be taken into account– seriousness of the charge and severity of punishment.
“Thus, it is not as if economic offences are completely taken out of the aforesaid guidelines but do form a different nature of offences and thus the seriousness of the charge has to be taken into account but simultaneously, the severity of the punishment imposed by the statute would also be a factor,” the bench said.
A copy of this order be circulated to the Registrars of the different High Courts to be further circulated to the trial Courts so that the unnecessary bail matters do not come up to this Court, the bench said.
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