Anticipatory bail can’t be limited by time, rules Supreme Court
A constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that an anticipatory bail cannot be limited to a fixed time period and can continue till the end of the trial.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Ravindra Bhat, however, also made it clear that if there are any special circumstances necessitating a limit on the tenure of anticipatory bail, it is open for the court to do so.
The judgment came in a reference made by a three-judge bench in the case of Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi regarding the scope of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which provides for grant of anticipatory bail.
“Nothing in Section 438 CrPC compels or obliges courts to impose conditions limiting relief in terms of time…,” the judgment said.
The apex court, therefore, held that when Parliament has not thought it appropriate to curtail the rights of the citizens, it would be not appropriate for the SC to curtail powers granted to courts with regard to anticipatory bail.
The top court, however, said that courts can impose conditions while granting anticipatory bail. The need to impose restrictive conditions would have to be judged on a case to case basis, depending upon the materials produced by the state or the investigating agency, SC said.
The case was referred to a Constitution bench by a three-judge Bench in May 2018 after it noted conflicting judgments.
While judgments including Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia & Ors v. State of Punjab, Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra, held that anticipatory bail should not be for a limited time period, certain other judgments like Salauddin Abdulsamad Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra had ruled the opposite.