Dismissing an appeal of the Enforcement Directorate, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the 60/90-day duration for the grant of default bail in a criminal case will include the remand period.

A bench of Justice KM Joseph, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, and Justice BV Nagarathna dismissed the appeal filed by the ED challenging the Bombay High Court order granting bail to former DHFL promoters Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan in a Yes Bank money laundering case being probed by the agency.

"The remand period will be calculated from the date, magistrate remand the accused. An accused becomes entitled to default bail if the charge sheet is not filed by 61st or 91st day of the remand period", the bench said.

The three-judge bench answered the larger issue referred to it by a two-judge bench in 2021. It directed the pending petitions pertaining to the case to be placed before a two-judge bench.

The apex court had on February 9, reserved its verdict on the appeal of ED. On February 23, 2021, the apex court referred to a larger bench the legal question that whether the day on which an accused is remanded to custody should be included while calculating the 60-day period for the grant of default bail.

The legal issue had arisen during the hearing of an ED's appeal against a Bombay High Court order granting bail to the former promoters of the Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL).

In September 2020, the apex court stayed a Bombay High Court order granting bail to the promoters. The apex court had issued a notice to the accused on the ED's plea against the High Court order of bail.

The Bombay High Court had on August 20, 2020, granted bail to the Wadhawan brothers stating that mandatory default bail is the sequel to the non-filing of the charge sheet. The High Court had granted them bail as it held that the ED failed to file its charge sheet in the case within the stipulated 60-day period.

The central probe agency had then filed a special leave petition before the apex court. The federal probe agency had said that it was not in violation of the procedure and had filed a part of the charge sheet through e-mail, a day before the 60-day period ended.

The charge sheet was filed in physical form by the ED on July 13, 2020. As per Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an accused can be detained for a maximum of 90 days for a crime punishable with death, life imprisonment, or a sentence of over 10 years. If the investigation relates to any other offence, the accused can be detained for 60 days.

With PTI Inputs