Criminal Appeal No. 786 of 2010. Case: Union of India through C.B.I. Vs Nirala Yadav @ Raja Ram Yadav @ Deepak Yadav. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 786 of 2010
JudgesDipak Misra and N. V. Ramana, JJ.
IssueCode of Criminal Procedure - Section 167(2); Indian Penal Code - Sections 302, 304, 353, 323, 149, 148, 147
Judgement DateJune 30, 2014
CourtSupreme Court (India)


Dipak Misra, J.

  1. The present appeal, by special leave, is directed against the order dated 4.3.2008 passed by the learned Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Patna in Criminal Misc. No. 44042 of 2007 enlarging the respondent on bail solely on the ground that he was entitled to the benefit under the proviso appended to Section 167(2) CrPC of Criminal Procedure (for short "the CrPC").

  2. The antecedent essential facts are that the respondent was arraigned as an accused in Nauhatta P.S. case No. 4/02 for the offences punishable under Sections 302, 304, 353, 323, 149, 148 and 147 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), under Section 27 of the Arms Act and under Section 49(2)(b) of Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) for murder of Sanjay Kumar Singh, Divisional Forest Officer. Initially the investigation was carried out by the local investigating agency and thereafter, the Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, New Delhi, issued a notification No. 228/9/02-AVD/II dated 21.3.2002 handing over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after obtaining the consent of the Government of Bihar.

  3. As per the allegations of the prosecution, on 15.2.2002 the deceased Sanjay Kumar Singh, Divisional Forest Officer, Shahabad Division with Headquarter at Sasaram, was on a surprise check in village Rehal, District Rohtas along with his subordinate staff and, at that juncture, he was surrounded by a group of 25-30 unknown naxalites and was taken outside the village and when he declined to comply with the illegal demand of the naxalites for payment of rupees five lakhs for his release, he was taken inside the forest where he was shot dead. After the criminal law was set in motion on the basis of an FIR, the investigation commenced.

  4. In course of investigation, the respondent was arrested and was sent to the judicial custody on 5.12.2006. As the charge-sheet was not filed after lapse of the statutory period of ninety days, on 14.3.2007 the respondent filed an application under Section 167(2) CrPC for release on bail on the foundation that in the absence of challan on record he was entitled to be admitted to bail after completion of ninety days from his date of arrest. On 15.3.2007, an application was filed by the CBI under Section 49(2)(b) of POTA seeking extension of time for a period of thirty days, but on that day no order was passed on that application and the learned Special Judge asked the defence to file a reply in rejoinder to the application for extension but did not pass any order on the application for grant of bail.

  5. As the factual matrix would unfurl, charge-sheet was filed on 26.3.2007. On 3.4.2007 the learned Special Judge extended the time for filing the charge-sheet till the date of such filing, i.e., 26.3.2007 and rejected the application of the respondent. Being unsuccessful in getting admitted to bail, the accused-respondent approached the High Court in Criminal Misc. No. 44042 of 2007 and the learned single Judge who dealt with the application, after referring to the decision in Hitendra Vishnu Thakur v. State of Maharahstra, (1994) 4 SCC 602 and placing reliance on the dictum in Uday Mohanlal Acharya v. State of Maharahstra, (2001) 5 SCC 453, came to hold that the right had already accrued to the respondent on 14.3.2007 when he had moved the application for grant of bail and, accordingly, admitted him to bail on certain conditions.

  6. We have heard Mr. P.K. Dey, learned counsel for the appellant and Ms. Prerna Singh, learned counsel for the respondent.

  7. Calling in question the legal acceptability of the order, it is submitted by Mr. Day that the High Court has been totally misguided by placing reliance upon the law laid down in Harindra Vishnu Thakur (supra) without apprising itself about the Constitution Bench decision in Sanjay Dutt v. State, (1994) 5 SCC 410 which makes the order unsustainable. It is urged by him that when the application for bail was filed on the ground that the charge-sheet was not filed within ninety days, and the said application was not considered and no order was passed by the learned trial Judge before the charge-sheet was filed, the indefeasible right that vested in an accused, got totally destroyed, but, unfortunately, the High Court has failed to appreciate the said legal principle which makes the impugned order sensitively untenable. It is his further submission that the learned single Judge has failed to apply the correct principle on the right of "compulsive bail" inasmuch as such a right should be available on the date the bail application is taken up for consideration but not on the date of its presentation. He has commended us to the decisions in Sanjay Dutt (supra), State of M.P. v. Rustam & ors., 1995 Supp (3) SCC 221, Bipin Shantilal Panchal v. State of Gujarat, (1996) 1 SCC 718, Dinesh Dalmia v. CBI, (2007) 8 SCC 770, Mustaq Ahmed Isak v. State of Maharashtra, (2009) 7 SCC 480 and Pragyna Singh Thakur v. State of Maharashtra, (2011) 10 SCC 445.

  8. Ms. Prerna Singh, learned counsel appearing for the respondent, per contra, has contended that the controversy is squarely covered by the decision in Uday Mohanlal Acharya (supra) and as the High Court has based its decision on the same in the backdrop of the factual scenario, the order is absolutely defensible and does not suffer from any infirmity warranting interference. She would further submit that the indefeasible right available to the accused cannot be extinguished by filing an application for extension of time to file the charge-sheet after expiry of the initial period and filing the same after certain period, for if such kind of allowance is conferred, the purpose of the provision engrafted under Section 167(2) CrPC would be frustrated.

  9. At the outset it is necessary to state that the facts are not in dispute and, therefore, we are obliged to advert to the law and adjudge whether the High Court has correctly applied the legal principles. As we notice from the impugned order the learned single Judge has referred to the decision in Hatindra Vishnu Thakur (supra). In the said case the Court had dwelled upon the import of Section 20(4) of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 read with Section 167 CrPC and came to hold that: -

    ... we find that once the period for filing the charge-sheet has expired and either no extension under clause (bb) has been granted by the Designated Court or the period of extension has also expired, the accused person would be entitled to move an application for being admitted to bail under sub-section (4) of Section 20 TADA read with Section 167 of the Code and the Designated Court shall release him on bail, if the accused seeks to be so released and furnishes the requisite bail. We are not impressed with the argument of the learned counsel for the appellant that on the expiry of the period during which investigation is required to be completed under Section 20(4) TADA read with Section 167 of the Code, the court must release the accused on bail on its own motion even without any application from an accused person on his offering to furnish bail. In our opinion an accused is required to make an application if he wishes to be released on bail on account of the ''default'' of the investigating/prosecuting agency and once such an application is made, the court should issue a notice to the public prosecutor who may either show that the prosecution has obtained the order for extension for completion of investigation from the court under clause (bb) or that the challan has been filed in the Designated Court before the expiry of the prescribed period or even that the prescribed period has actually not expired and thus resist the grant of bail on the alleged ground of ''default''. The issuance of notice would avoid the possibility of an accused obtaining an order of bail under the ''default'' clause by either deliberately or inadvertently concealing certain facts and would avoid multiplicity of proceedings. It would, therefore, serve the ends of justice if both sides are heard on a petition for grant of bail on account of the prosecution''s ''default''. Similarly, when a report is submitted by the public prosecutor to the Designated Court for grant of extension under clause (bb), its notice should be issued to the accused before granting such an extension so that an accused may have an opportunity to oppose the extension on all legitimate and legal grounds available to him. It is true that neither clause (b) nor clause (bb) of sub-section (4) of Section 20 TADA specifically provide for the issuance of such a notice but in our opinion the issuance of such a notice must be read into these provisions both in the interest of the accused and the prosecution as well as for doing complete justice between the parties.

    After so stating, the Court proceeded to observe as follows: -

    We must as already noticed reiterate that the objection to the grant of bail to an accused on account of the ''default'' of the prosecution to complete the investigation and file the challan within the maximum period prescribed under clause (b) of sub-section (4) of Section 20 TADA or within the extended period as envisaged by clause (bb) has to be limited to cases where either the factual basis for invoking the ''default'' clause is not available or the period for completion of investigation has been extended under clause (bb) and the like. No other condition like the gravity of the case, seriousness of the offence or character of the offender etc. can weigh with the court at that stage to refuse the grant of bail to an accused under sub-section (4) of Section 20 TADA on account of the ''default'' of the prosecution.

  10. After the said decision was rendered, the interpretation of clause (bb) of sub-section (4) of Section 20 of TADA was referred to the Constitution Bench. In Sanjay Dutt (supra) the two questions that were posed by the...

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