The Supreme Court in the case M. Ravindran vs. The Intelligence Officer, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 699 OF 2020 said that it is the duty of the courts to inform the accused about his right of “default bail” once it comes to them.
The bench headed by Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran also added that this right mentioned in section 167(2) of The Code of Criminal procedure, 1973 is a part of fundamental right under Article 21 of The Constitution of India. It also said that not informing of the right and causing unnecessary delay is a violation of legislation.
The court said that the provision for default bail is to ensure fair and expeditions trial which protects the society at every level. The court also repeated time and again that the issue of notice to the State on the application for default bail is only so that the Public Prosecutor can satisfy the Court that the prosecution has already obtained an order of extension of time from the Cour; or that the challan has been filed in the designated Court before the expiry of the prescribed period; or that the prescribed period has actually not expired. The prosecution can accordingly urge the Court to refuse granting bail on the alleged ground of default.
The court also disapproved the practice of prosecutors who file additional complaint before the concerned court to defeat the indefeasible right of the accused to be released on bail.
Court said: “If such a practice is allowed, the right under Section 167(2) would be rendered nugatory as the investigating officers could drag their heels till the time the accused exercises his right and conveniently files an additional complaint including the name of the accused as soon as the application for bail is taken up for disposal. Such complaint may be on flimsy grounds or motivated merely to keep the accused detained in custody….Irrespective of the seriousness of the offence and the reliability of the evidence available, filing additional complaints merely to circumvent the application for default bail is, in our view, an improper strategy.”
Read order here: