Court sets aside High Court order granting bail for two accused

Once a person is declared as an absconder/proclaimed offender in a criminal case, he/she will not be entitled to the relief of anticipatory bail, the Supreme Court has held.

Reiterating this ruling, a Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “When the accused is absconding and declared as a ‘proclaimed offender,’ there is no question of granting anticipatory bail. We reiterate that when a person against whom a warrant had been issued and is absconding or concealing himself in order to avoid execution of warrant and declared as a proclaimed offender in terms of Section 82 of the Cr.P.C., he is not entitled to the relief of anticipatory bail.”

Writing the judgment the CJI said: “The power exercisable under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C. [relating to anticipatory bail] is somewhat extraordinary in character and it is to be exercised only in exceptional cases.”

In the instant appeal, the Madhya Pradesh government was aggrieved over the grant of anticipatory bail by the Madhya Pradesh High Court to two respondent-accused Pradeep Sharma and Naresh Raghuvanshi, who were charged for murder. The arrest warrants issued against them were returned without service as they were not traceable. However, they obtained anticipatory bail from the High Court.