Default Bail Granted Can Be Cancelled If Chargesheet Reveals Special Reasons, Commission Of Non-Bailable Crime- SC
The Supreme Court has held that when special reasons were made out from the chargesheet and the chargesheet revealed the commission of a non-bailable crime, default bail granted under proviso to Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 could be cancelled.
The Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar observed “that mere filing of the chargesheet subsequent to a person is released on default bail under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. cannot be a ground to cancel the bail of a person, who is released on default bail. However, on filing of the chargesheet on conclusion of the investigation, if a strong case is made out and on merits, it is found that he has committed a non-bailable offence/crime, on the special reasons/grounds and considering Section 437(5) and Section 439(2) Cr.P.C, over and above other grounds on which the bail to a person, who is released on bail can be cancelled on merits.”
In this case, deceased Shri Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, a former M.L.A.; former Member of Lok Sabha; former Member of A.P. Legislative Council was murdered. Initially a case under Section 174 Cr.P.C. was registered and subsequently a case under Section 302 read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) was registered. The State constituted a Special Investigation Team (S.I.T.), who took over the investigation. During the course of investigation, the respondent herein – original Accused No. 1 T. Gangi Reddy was arrested and was remanded to judicial custody.
After 90 days in the judicial custody, he was released on default bail under Section 167 CrPC. Later, as per the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, investigation in the above crime was entrusted to the appellant – CBI. The CBI filed the final chargesheet and thereafter filed an application before the Special Court under Section 439(2) CrPC for cancelation of the bail granted to the respondent, which was dismissed.
Thereafter, the CBI conducted further investigation and then approached the High Court seeking cancellation of bail. The High Court dismissed the petition on the ground that once respondent No. 1 was released on default bail under Section 167(2) CrPC, thereafter, the bail could not be cancelled on merits.
The question before the Apex Court was Whether after an accused was released on default bail under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C., under which circumstances, his bail can be cancelled and whether bail can be cancelled on merits having found committed non-bailable crime on conclusion of the investigation and filing the chargesheet?
Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj appearing for the appellant-CBI vehemently submitted that release of an accused on default bail under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C., could not be said that the accused was released on merits but on the failure of the investigating agency to conclude the investigation within 90 days time.
Senior Advocate B. Adinarayan appearing for the respondent submitted that mere subsequent filing of the chargesheet could not be a ground to cancel the bail granted to the respondent under Section 167(2) CrPC as it was an indefeasible right which accrued in favour of the accused.
The Court noted that when an accused was released on default bail under proviso to subsection (2) of Section 167 Cr.P.C., he was released on furnishing the bail bond by him on the failure of the investigating agency to complete the investigation and file the chargesheet within 90 days time. Even the proviso envisages that a person released on default bail was deemed to be released under provisions of Chapter XXXIII of the Cr.P.C., which included Sections 437 and 439.
“The object and purpose of proviso to Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. is to impress upon the need for expeditious investigation within the prescribed time limit and to prevent laxity in that behalf. The object is to inculcate a sense of its urgency and on default the Magistrate shall release the accused if he is ready and does furnish bail. Thus, it cannot be said that order of release on bail under proviso to Section 167(2) Cr.P.C. is an order on merits.” observed the Apex Court.
The Apex Court further placed reliance on the decision of this Court in the case of Aslam Babalal Desai Vs. State of Maharashtra, (1992) 4 SCC 272 and Abdul Basit Alias Raju and Ors. Vs. Mohd. Abdul Kadir Chaudhary and Anr., (2014) 10 SCC 754 wherein it was held that merits brought out in the chargesheet and attending circumstances are relevant, as the bail was granted due to default of the investigating officer without the Court's adverting to the merits but special and strong ground that commission of non-bailable crime is disclosed from the chargesheet are necessary to cancel the bail and mere filing of the chargesheet itself is not sufficient.
The Apex Court further expressed that if the argument that once an accused was released on default bail, it cannot be cancelled on merits is accepted, it would lead to travesty of justice as the investigating officer might choose not to file the chargesheet within stipulated time and the accused would be released on bail.
The Apex Court observed that “The Courts have the power to cancel the bail and to examine the merits of the case in a case where the accused is released on default bail and released not on merits earlier. Such an interpretation would be in furtherance to the administration of justice.”
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and remitted the case to High Court.
Cause Title- The State Through Central Bureau of Investigation V. T. Gangi Reddy @ Yerra Gangi Reddy