The apex court, on 17th May, stayed an order passed by the Rajasthan High Court, in which the court had asked the police to not arrest the accused in cases where the maximum punishment can be more than three years. Another order of the Jaipur and Jodhpur single bench had stated that offences under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure should not be put under the list of bailable applications. This order has also stayed.
The order was stayed by a vacation bench consisting of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice BR Gavai. A petition had been submitted by the Rajasthan High Court against the order of the single bench court which instructed the Deputy General of Police to inform all the officials to not act upon cases that have the maximum punishment of three years and which are triable by the first-class magistrate first. This order was supposed to remain operational till 17th July.
Following the advancements of senior advocates Manish Singhvi and Vijay Hansaria, the apex court stayed the instructions in paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 of the order issued by the single bench.
The single bench of Rajasthan was hearing a petition that pleaded for an anticipatory bail application for a case registered under sections 457 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code. The case was being heard by Justice Pankaj Bhandari. Upon the dismissal of the petition, the petitioner had moved to a higher court.
The court observed that there are a huge number of petitions for bail and anticipatory bail applications lying before the court. In the current situation when the pandemic is spreading its fangs, it is extremely important to sort the matters that need to be dealt with on an urgent note. Therefore, the cases for which the maximum punishment does not exceed the limit of three years and those which can be heard by the first-class magistrate, need not be heard as urgent bail applications.
Senior advocate, Vijay Hansaria had brought this point to the notice of the Supreme court while pleading that the single bench high court of Rajasthan has often passed problematic decisions even before. The order issued is not only against the right of the state police to arrest but also against the fundamental constitutional rights of a person arrested, to plead for a bail application. The period of three years might have been taken to be trivial by the single bench court but the same can turn out to be disastrous for the person accused. The pandemic cannot be taken as an excuse to act unconstitutionally.
Hearing the same arguments, the Supreme court has for the moment stayed the order in parts. Further review and advancements in the case are yet to take place. Till then, the Rajasthan state police will function following the usual protocols irrespective of the parts of the order passed by the High Court that has been stayed.