Right of Accused to be Released on Bail if Investigation not Completed within Prescribed period- Supreme Court

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September 25, 2018

Right of Accused to be Released on Bail– In this recent case, the Supreme Court has deliberated on the law pertaining to right of bail when the investigation is pending and is not completed within the period as prescribed under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Case name: Achpal @ Ramswaroop & Another v. State of Rajasthan

  • The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court heavily relied on its verdict in the case of Uday Mohanlal Acharya v. State of Maharashtra, which elaborated on the law on the point as to the rights of an accused who is in custody pending investigation and where the investigation is not completed within the period prescribed under Section 167(2) of the Code.
  • In Uday Mohanlal case, the Supreme Court held that on the expiry of the said period of 90 days or 60 days, as the case may be, an indefeasible right accrues in favour of the accused for being released on bail on account of default by the investigating agency in the completion of the investigation within the period prescribed and the accused is entitled to be released on bail, if he is prepared to and furnishes the bail as directed by the Magistrate.
  • Reference was also made to Law Commission’s recommendation, whereby it was observed that such remand beyond the statutory period fixed under Section 167 would lead to serious abuse and therefore some time limit was required to be placed on the power of the police to obtain remand and as such the maximum period for completion of investigation was suggested.
  • The Supreme Court in the case noted that the letter of and spirit behind enactment of Section 167 of the Code as it stands thus mandates that the investigation ought to be completed within the period prescribed. Ideally, the investigation, going by the provisions of the Code, ought to be completed within first 24 hours itself.
  • That further in terms of sub-section (1) of Section 167, if “it appears that the investigation cannot be completed within the period of twenty-four hours fixed by Section 57” the concerned officer ought to transmit the entries in the diary relating to the case and at the same time forward the accused to such Magistrate. Thereafter, it is for the Magistrate to consider whether the accused be remanded to custody or not.
  • Object of Section 167 of CrPC– The Supreme Court noted that the purpose of the provision was that the basis of the material relating to investigation, the Magistrate ought to be in a position to proceed with the matter. It is thus clearly indicated that the stage of investigation ought to be confined to 90 or 60 days, as the case may be, and thereafter the issue relating to the custody of the accused ought to be dealt with by the Magistrate on the basis of the investigation.
  • That matters and issues relating to liberty and whether the person accused of a charge ought to be confined or not, must be decided by the Magistrate and not by the Police. The entire case can be accessed here.