The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on the SLP preferred against the May 11 order of the Madras High Court holding that the accused cannot claim 'default' bail taking advantage of the March 23 suo moto order the Supreme Court to extend limitation periods in view of the COVID-19 lockdown.
"Order passed by the Supreme Court invoking Article 142 of the constitution is an equitable order. After putting fetters on the investigating agency upon their right of movement causing delay in completing investigation, the person accused of the offence cannot take undue advantage of the situation and seek default bail. The liberty enshrined under Article 21 is subject to restrictions. The order of the Apex Court is Law binding on all courts. The petitioner's life and liberty is restricted only by due process of law and procedure established under law".
This was in contradiction of the earlier order of the same court, of another single bench of Justice G R Swaminathan, which had observed that the police cannot take benefit of the SC order to claim additional period for filing final report.
On May 8, the Court had held that allowing such an interpretation would defeat the fundamental right to personal liberty of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution of India- "Personal liberty is too precious a fundamental right. Article 21 states that no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. So long as the language of Section 167(2) of Cr.Pc remains as it is, I have to necessarily hold that denial of compulsive bail to the petitioner herein will definitely amount to violation of his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The noble object of the Hon'ble Supreme Court's direction is to ensure that no litigant is deprived of his valuable rights. But, if I accept the plea of the respondent police, the direction of the Hon'ble Supreme Court which is intended to save and preserve rights would result in taking away the valuable right that had accrued to the accused herein"
The Kerala High Court and the SC Order For Extension Of Limitation Does Not Affect An Accused' Right To Default Bail Under Section 167(2) CrPC: Uttarakhand HC [Read Order] Uttarakhand High Court have also expressed similar views in the matter. Last week, the Rajasthan High Court also reiterated, "In absence of any clear stipulation in the above referred order of Hon'ble Supreme Court, in my considered opinion, the investigating or prosecuting agency cannot claim self-serving extension, under the pretence or cloak of such order. If that be permitted, statutory period of completing assessments etc. in all statutes such as Income Tax Act, GST Act etc. will stand automatically extended, which, in absence of express statutory amendments is impermissible",
Click here to download the Order
Read the Order Here