Delhi HC: Default Bail a Fundamental Right, can’t be suspended during pandemic

Sanika Deshpande

Published On: October 20, 2021 at 09:00 IST

While granting Bail to a Dowry Death Accused, the Delhi High Court stated that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states that Bail is a Fundamental Right and it cannot be suspended during a pandemic. 

The Accused and his family members were booked under Sections 304B (dowry death) 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code on January 16, 2020.

One of the offences the Accused was booked under is punishable with Imprisonment exceeding 10 years or Life Imprisonment, or Death. 

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri made this observation while dealing with a Petition which challenged the dismissal of the Application filed by a Metropolitan Magistrate seeking Default Bail under Section 167 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Order stated, “While extending the custody of an undertrial prisoner, the court shall not mechanically extend the period of custody for the maximum period of 15 days as prescribed under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C,”

The Court later asked for a response from the Registrar General and Director General of Prisons on steps to be undertaken regarding the undertrial Prisoners Bail.

“Considering the seriousness of the issue involved, this court deems it apposite to seek a response from the Registrar General as well the DG (Prisons) on the steps being undertaken. The undertrial should be informed of his right to seek ‘default bail’ and that such right is not defeated but rather timely exercised,” stated the Court.

There are total of 16,500 undertrial prisoners in Sandeep Goel DG (Prisons) out of which 3,942 were released on Interim Bail during the lockdown.

Also Read: What is the Fundamental Right to get Legal Remedy?

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