The Kerala High Court has observed that the bar against granting anticipatory bail in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, does not disentitle the person accused of an offence under the Act from seeking regular bail, when he is arrested and produced before the court or when he surrenders or appears before the court.
Justice Narayana Pisharadi was considering an appeal filed by an accused charged for offences under the SC-ST Act against an order passed by the Session's Court which rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by him.
The Court said that the Sessions Judge was right in holding that the bar under Sections 18 and 18A(2) of the Act interdict the court from granting anticipatory bail to the accused. But the court observed that there is no basis for the finding made by the Sessions Judge that it is a case where custodial interrogation of the accused would be required for the investigation of the case. In this context, the court said:
"But, the fact that a person who is accused of an offence under the Act is not entitled to get anticipatory bail does not mean that he is not entitled to get regular bail. The privilege of pre-arrest bail, in respect of the offences under the Act, is often denied to an accused only for the reason that Sections 18 and 18A of the Act interdict the court from granting that relief. In many cases registered under the Act, custodial interrogation of the accused may not be necessary and there may not be any risk of the accused fleeing from justice. In such cases, but for the bar under the aforesaid provisions of the Act, the court would have exercised the discretion to grant the relief under Section 438 Cr.P.C in favour of the accused. In such cases, nothing prevents the Special Court from granting bail to the accused under Section 437 of the Code, when he is arrested and produced before the court or when he surrenders or appears before the court. The bar under Sections 18 and 18A of the Act will not apply at the stage of consideration of a bail application by the Special Court under Section 437 Cr.P.C."
Observing thus, the Court dismissed the appeal.
Case name: JULI C.J vs. STATE OF KERALACase no.: CRL.A.No.450 OF 2020Coram: Justice Narayana Pisharadi Counsel: Adv B.SURJITH, Sr. PP SANTHOSH PETER
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