The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice AP Sahi has constituted a division bench for answering a reference as to whether the Supreme Court's order dated March 23 In Re: Cognizance For Extension Of Limitation, for extension of limitation during the lockdown period, is applicable to police investigation under Section 167(2) of the CrPC for default bail.
The reference has been made pursuant to two conflicting views adopted by two single Judges of the High Court.
In an order pronounced on May 8 in "Settu vs The State", Justice G R Swaminathan had interpreted the SC's order as applicable only to limitation period for filing cases under the Limitation Act, 1963.
He had observed that the order did not touch upon any specific extension of time for completing investigation under Section 167(2). Hence, it was held that once the mandatory period of 60/ 90 days as prescribed under the provision expires, the accused is entitled for default bail.
A similar order was also passed by the Uttarakhand High Court, in Vivek Sharma v. State of Uttarkhand, whereby Justice Alok Kumar Verma had held that the SC order for extension of limitation does not mean that the Court had extended the 60 days/ 90 days period of police investigation prescribed under Section 167(2).
Taking a contrary view however, in S. Kasi v. State through The Inspector of Police, Justice G. Jayachandran observed that to hold that the SC order is not applicable to the time period for filing final report amounts to "mocking" the Apex Court.
He held that the period of limitation for investigation under Sec.167 CrPC would also stand extended, keeping in view the extraordinary situation of the Covid-19.
Accordingly, Justice Sahi has stated in the reference that "there are two conflicting opinions arising out of the orders referred to above and in my considered view, since the same is likely to have a direct impact on bail orders to be passed by the Subordinate Judiciary or even by this Court, the matter deserves to be resolved by an authoritative pronouncement."
The reference has been placed for consideration before a Division Bench presided over by Justice PN Prakash at Madurai Bench itself.
The reference to be answered that is:
"Whether the orders passed by the Apex Court on 23rd March, 2020 and 6th May, 2020 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2020 also apply to the proceedings under Sec.167(2) Cr.P.C. and consequently which of the two opinions expressed by the learned single Judges in the case of Settu (supra) and Kasi (supra) lays down the law correctly?"
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