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High Court Registry cannot refuse to number the anticipatory bail application on the ground of maint

Surendran v. State by Inspector of PoliceSLP (CRL.) No. 1832 of 2019 – 29th March, 2019

CORAM: A two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Mohan M. Shatanagoudar.

It was held that: “The maintainability of a bail application is a question of law that can be decided only by an appropriate bench of the court. The registry cannot perform a judicial function of evaluating the maintainability of a bail application to dismiss it before numbering.” The bench evaluated the question of law regarding whether the dismissal of anticipatory bail application in matters of offences under the SC/ST Act by the Registry will constitute a judicial function?

The petitioners had filed an anticipatory bail application before the Hon’ble High Court of Madras in the matter of Crime No. 937 of 2017 involving offences under the SC/ST Act. The Registry had denied numbering of the application on the grounds that a bail application cannot be filed in an SC/ST Act offence. The petitioners filed the present SLP regarding the issue of a judicial function being performed by the registry which is an administrative body.

The petitioners contended that with the inclusion of Sec. 18A by the Amendment to the SC/ST Act of 2018, anticipatory bail cannot be denied without a representation before a competent bench of the Court. They argued that the registry is an administrative body of the Court and cannot adjudicate upon judicial matters such as grant of bail.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court referred to the judgement of Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd., Meerut v. Lakshmichand and ascertain whether a decision or an act is a judicial function or not, in the following manner:

1) It is in substance a determination upon investigation of a question by the application of objective standards to facts found in the light of preexisting legal rule;(2) It declares rights or imposes upon parties obligations affecting their civil rights; and(3) That the investigation is subject to certain procedural attributes contemplating an opportunity of presenting its case to a party, ascertainment of facts by means of evidence if a dispute be on questions of fact, and if the dispute be on question of law on the presentation of legal argument, and a decision resulting in the disposal of the matter on findings based upon those questions of law and fact.

The Court held that the registry had performed a judicial function that was ultra vires its administrative powers and ordered for a requisite bench to be constituted to adjudicate upon the merits of the bail application.

View/ Download the Judgment: Surendran v. State by Inspector of Police

– Vignesh Hariharan. R



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