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Court cannot impose condition to deposit amount involved while granting statutory bail u/s 167(2):SC

Saravanan vs State represented by the Inspector of Police, CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 681682 OF 2020 (Arising from S.L.P. (Criminal) Nos.43864387/2020), October 15, 2020.

The present case was decided by the Supreme Court Bench comprising Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan, Hon’ble Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Hon’ble Justice M.R. Shah. The matter is an appeal against an order passed by the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, by which the accused has been released on default bail upon a condition to deposit Rs.8,00,000/-.

The question in the present case was whether while releasing the appellant-accused on default bail/statutory bail under Section 167(2), Cr.P.C., any condition of deposit of amount as imposed by the High Court, could have been imposed?

The appellant was arrested for the offence punishable under section 420 of IPC and was remanded to the judicial custody on 31.01.2020 in Crime No.31 of 2019 on the file of the D.C.B. Police Station, Kanyakumari District. The appellant has made an application for bail under section 437 of Cr.p.c before the learned Judicial Magistrate and an undertaking for payment was given by the appellant’s wife for Rs.7,00,000/-. The bail was granted on 3.2.2020 upon conditions stated in the order. One of the conditions was directing the appellant to deposit Rs.7,00,000/in the Court, and the balance amount of Rs. 8,67,338/- was directed to be deposited on or before 06.04.2020. Feeling aggrieved by the same the appellant has approached the High Court by way of Criminal OP (MD) No. 6214 of 2020. However, High Court has dismissed the application and directed the appellant to approach the magistrate court for modifications.

Thereafter, the accused has filed an application before the learned sessions court (Criminal M.P. No. 1695/2020) seeking a default bail under Section 167(2) of Cr.p.c. It was the contention of the appellant that he was arrested and remanded on 31.01.2020 and he was in the jail for more than 101 days and investigation is not completed and police have not filed final report within the time period specified under Section 167 Cr.p.c. The said application has been dismissed by the learned Sessions Court on the ground that the appellant has been granted bail by the magistrate court on a condition to deposit Rs.7,00,000/- and the same has not been adhered and instead of approaching the magistrate court for any modifications as directed by the high court, the appellant has filed application for default bail under Section 167 Cr.p.c. Further, the appellant approached the high court to release him on default/statutory bail and the same was accepted by the high court. However, the high court has imposed a condition no. (b) to pay Rs.8,00,000/- before the magistrate court considering the undertaking of the appellant’s wife earlier before the magistrate court. The appellant filed an application for modification of the above condition and another condition no. (d) Under which he was directed to report before the concerned police station daily at 10 a.m. for interrogation until further orders and the application was dismissed and hence, filed an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

Imposing such condition while releasing the accused on default bail/statutory bail would frustrate the very object and purpose of default bail under Section 167(2), Cr.P.C. As observed by this Court in the case of Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra) and in other decisions, the accused is entitled to default bail/statutory bail, subject to the eventuality occurring in Section 167, Cr.P.C., namely, investigation is not completed within 60 days or 90 days, as the case may be, and no chargesheet is filed by 60th or 90th day and the accused applies for default bail and is prepared to furnish bail. (para 9)

9.1 As observed hereinabove and even from the impugned orders passed by the High Court, it appears that the High Court while releasing the appellant on default bail/statutory bail has imposed the condition to deposit Rs.8,00,000/­ taking into consideration that earlier before the learned Magistrate and while considering the regular bail application under Section 437 Cr.P.C., the wife of the accused filed an affidavit to deposit Rs.7,00,000/­. That cannot be a ground to impose the condition to deposit the amount involved, while granting default bail/statutory bail. The court observed that,

“The circumstances while considering the regular bail application under Section 437 Cr.P.C. are different, while considering the application for default bail/statutory bail. Under the circumstances, the condition imposed by the High Court to deposit Rs.8,00,000/, while releasing the appellant on default bail/ statutory bail is unsustainable and deserves to be quashed and set aside.”(Para 9.2)

The condition no.(d) to appear daily at 10 a.m before the concerned police station as imposed by the high court was also held unsustainable. The appeal was allowed and the impugned order of the high court directing the appellant to deposit Rs,8,00,000/- before the magistrate court was quashed and set aside.




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