Madras HC: Upholds Right to Default Bail for Individuals Arrested During Ongoing Investigations

LI Network

Published on: 23 August 2023 at 10:00 IST

The Madras High Court has delivered a significant legal pronouncement regarding the rights of individuals arrested during the course of ongoing investigations to seek default bail as per Section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

This ruling, issued by Justice N Anand Venkatesh, elucidates the interpretation and application of crucial provisions within the CrPC, underscoring the preservation of the fundamental right to liberty enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The focal case of this legal ruling pertained to Gnanasekaran Thiyagaraj, who was apprehended during the progression of a supplementary investigation subsequent to the court’s initial recognition of the offense.

The central concern revolved around Thiyagaraj’s eligibility to secure statutory bail in accordance with Section 167(2) of the CrPC.

Justice Venkatesh’s judgment encapsulated several pivotal insights and declarations:

1. If an accused individual is detained during subsequent investigation phases and was not identified as an accused party either in the First Information Report (FIR) or in the final report, this circumstance should be regarded as an investigatory stage under Chapter XII of the Code. Consequently, the provisions of Section 167(2) of the CrPC can be justifiably invoked.

2. While an accused individual may forfeit the right to automatic statutory bail upon the rejection of the application, this denial does not translate to perpetual detention. The accused can still petition for regular bail, which will be evaluated on its merits. The court may then ascertain if releasing the accused on bail during the primary trial is justifiable.

3. In line with well-established legal precedents, the lower court’s refusal to grant statutory bail to the petitioner under Section 167(2) of the CrPC was flawed. This was due to the petitioner’s status as a non-accused entity when the final report was submitted and cognizance was taken. The petitioner was subsequently implicated and apprehended during further investigation under Section 173(8) of the CrPC, preceding the submission of a supplementary charge sheet.

Building on these discernments and legal interpretations, Justice Venkatesh conclusively ruled that Thiyagaraj possessed an incontrovertible right to statutory bail.

The court invalidated the prior decision of the Special Court that dismissed Thiyagaraj’s plea for statutory bail. Consequently, the court granted Thiyagaraj the right to statutory bail, subject to specific conditions.

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