12 May 2023 1:47 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday clarified that its interim order which directed that any application filed before any court seeking default bail on the basis of Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India And Ors. should be deferred, shall not preclude any trial courts or High Courts from considering applications for grant of default bail independent of and without relying on the judgement in Ritu Chhabaria....
The Supreme Court on Friday clarified that its interim order which directed that any application filed before any court seeking default bail on the basis of Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India And Ors. should be deferred, shall not preclude any trial courts or High Courts from considering applications for grant of default bail independent of and without relying on the judgement in Ritu Chhabaria.
In Ritu Chhabaria, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had held that a chargesheet filed on the basis of an incomplete investigation, though filed within time, will not defeat the right of an accused to seek default bail. The Enforcement Directorate has approached the Supreme Court challenging a Delhi High Court judgment which granted default bail to an accused based on Ritu Chhabaria judgment. The Centre has also filed an application seeking recall of the Ritu Chhabaria judgment.
A three judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala was hearing these application. The bench issued the clarification, after Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for an intervenor in the matter, argued that their rights had been curtailed because of the interim order. The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala clarified–
"We clarify that interim order of this Court dated May 1, 2023, shall not preclude any trial court or High Court from the grant of default bail independent of and not relying upon the Ritu Chhabaria judgment on April 26, 2023."
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for a respondent, questioned the maintainability of the Centre's recall application and said that they should file a review against the judgment if they are aggrieved with it. Rohatgi pointed out that the Supreme Court had in many cases held that a judgment can't be challenged through recall applications.
Responding to this, SG Tushar Mehta said that the Centre is in the process of filing a review petition.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed that any application filed before any court seeking default bail on the basis of Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India And Ors. should be deferred, till May 12, 2023 as the court had agreed to constitute a three-judge bench on May 4 to consider Centre's application seeking the recall of the Chhabaria judgement. Since the matter could not be heard on May 4, the bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala had extended its interim order till May 12, 2023.
In Ritu Chhabaria, a bench comprising Justices Krishna Murari and CT Ravikumar held that an incomplete chargesheet filed by the investigating agency without completing the investigation will not defeat the right of the accused for default bail. The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Government had highlighted the difficulties faced by central agencies due to the said judgment. He argued that Chhabaria lays down an absolute proposition that if the chargesheet has been filed without completing the investigation, then the accused would be entitled to default bail. Stating that various judgements of larger benches of the Supreme Court had unequivocally stated that it was the duty of an investigative agency to file chargesheet within 90 days or 60 days as the case maybe, SG Mehta argued that not all investigations could be finished in 60 or 90 days. The SG submitted that the agencies had the right to seek further investigation under Section 173(8) CrPC after the chargesheet was filed.
"Applications have already come for default bail based on this judgement before various courts in the country. Your lordships could have a relook at it in a three-judge bench. Would your lordships say in the meanwhile that the judgement may not be relied upon?", SG requested.
Refusing this request, the CJI had stated that the Court cannot pass an order that its judgment should not be relied upon. However, in the order, the bench clarified that the applications for default bail based on the said judgment should be deferred. While the initial interim order directed for applications to be deferred beyond May 4, the same was extend till May 12 later.Earlier this week, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) had urged the Supreme Court to recall its order deferring grant of default bails to accused all across the nation, on the basis of findings in Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India.
Case Title : Directorate of Enforcement v. Manpreet Singh Talwar | Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No.5724/2023
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