November 08, 2017
What is bail?
Bail materially refers to release of a person from legal custody on deposit of security and undertaking that he shall appear at the time and place designated and submit himself to the jurisdiction and judgment of the Court. Law Lexicon defines “Bail” as security for the appearance of the accused person on giving which he is released pending trial or investigation. The basis of bail lies in the principle that there is a presumption of innocence of a person till he is found guilty.
What is bailable and non-bailable offence?
Offences under the Criminal Law are classified into bailable and non-bailable offence. Section 2(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, provides that “bailable offence” refers to offences which are shown as bailable in the First Schedule or which is made bailable by any other Law and non-bailable offence means any other offence not specified in the First Schedule. A general reading of the bailable offences in the Schedule indicates that by and large not so serious offences are considered as bailable and other offences are considered as non-bailable.
According to the First Schedule offences under any Law other than the Indian Penal Code which are punishable with imprisonment for 3 years or more have been considered as “non-bailable” and offences which are punishable with less than 3 years have been considered as “bailable” offences. However, this rule is subject to any rule made to the contrary.
Can a person accused for non-bailable offence, be ever released on bail?
Yes, it does not imply that a person who is accused of non-bailable offence would never be released on bail. The release of a person accused of a non-bailable offence is left to the discretion of the concerned authorities whereas in case of bailable offence, it is right of the accused to be released on bail.
If bail application has been rejected, can the same be filed again?
Yes, bail application can be subsequently filed even after rejection. The principle of constructive res judicata does not apply to such applications [Gama v. State of U.P., CriLJ 242 (All)]. However, subsequent applications shall be placed before the same Judge who had passed earlier orders to prevent abuse of process of Court [Shahzad Hassan Khan v. Ishtiaq Hassan Khan (1987)2 SCC 684].
If accused has been granted bail then can even similarly placed co-accused be granted bail i.e. grant of bail on parity?
At the very outset it is stated that a Judge is not bound to always grant bail on parity. Such a decision would be taken by the Judge in view of the facts and circumstances of each case.
The judicial dicta in this context which expounds the issue are:
- Chander @ Chandra Vs. State of U.P. (1998 U.P. Cr.R. 263)– In this case, the Allahabad High Court enumerated the following for grant of bail on parity:
- That a judge is not bound to grant bail to an accused on the ground of parity even where the order granting bail to an identically placed co-accused contains reasons, if the same has been passed in flagrant violation of well settled principle and ignores to take into consideration the relevant facts essential for granting bail;
- That failure of justice may be occasioned if bail is granted to an accused on the basis of parity with another co-accused whose bail order does not contain any reason.
- If the order granting bail to an accused is not supported by reasons, the same cannot form the basis for granting bail to a co-accused on the ground of parity.
- Nanha v. State of U.P. (1993 CriLJ 938)– This case elaborately discussed the issue of grant of bail on parity and concluded that:
- Parity cannot be the sole ground for granting bail even at the stage of second or third or subsequent bail applications when the bail application of the co-accused whose bail application had been earlier rejected are allowed and co-accused is released on bail.
- That the Court has to satisfy itself that, on consideration of more materials placed, further developments in the investigations or otherwise and other different considerations, that there are sufficient grounds for releasing the applicant on bail.
- If on examination of a given case, it transpires that the case of the applicant before the Court is identically similar to the accused on facts and circumstances who has been bailed out, then the desirability of consistency will require that such an accused should be also released on bail.
In which cases release on bail is mandatory?
The circumstances under which grant of bail is mandatory:
- Where the person is not accused of a non-bailable offence is arrested or detained without warrant. In such cases, the concerned police officer if he thinks fit shall if such person is indigent and unable to furnish surety discharge him on executing bond without sureties for his appearance as provided in Law.
- Where the investigation is not completed within the stipulated time period– Section 57 of CrPC provides that a person arrested without warrant cannot be detained for more than 24 hours. However, if the concerned police officer deems it necessary to detain such person for more than 24 hours for purpose of investigation he can do so after obtaining Magistrate’s order under Section 167 of CrPC.
- Where no reasonable ground exists to believe that the accused has committed a non-bailable offence- Section 437(2) of CrPC entails that if it appears to the concerned officer that there are not reasonable grounds for believing that the accused has committed a non-bailable offence, but that there are sufficient grounds for further inquiry into his guilt, then the accused shall be pending such inquiry, be released on bail.
- When trial of a person accused of a non-bailable offence is not completed within a period of 60 days– Section 437(6) of CrPC.
- When the Court is of opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accused is not guilty of any such, it shall release the accused on Bail- Section 437(7) of CrPC.
Can a bail once granted be cancelled?
Yes, the CrPC under Section 439(2) provides for cancellation of bail by a High Court or a Court of Session. The provision empowers the High Court or Court of Session to direct that any person who has been released on bail be arrested and commit him to custody.
What are the grounds on which a bail can be cancelled?
The Criminal Law does not specifically enlists the circumstances or grounds on which a bail order can be cancelled. CrPC extends a discretionary power on the High Court or Court of Session to cancel a bail. However, precedents indicate circumstances under which a bail can be cancelled.
In the case of Public Prosecutor v. George William, the Court listed 5 circumstances under which bail could be cancelled. They were:
- Where the accused during the period of bail commits the same offence for which he is being tried;
- Hampers investigation;
- Tampers evidence, like intimidating prosecution witness;
- Runs away or goes beyond the control of sureties;
- Commits acts of violence against police or informant
Other grounds as inferred from judicial dicta are as under:
- Misrepresentation of facts [Brijeshwar Dayal Verma v. State of U.P. [1992 Cri LJ 411 (All HC)]
- Improper exercise of discretion by Judges [State of Maharashtra v. Anant Chintaman Dighe (1991)3 SCC 209]
- Bail granted on the basis of irrelevant material [Rohit Bansal v. State & Anr. CRL.M.C. 844/2017 & CRL.M.A. No. 3554/17]