SC ruling on anticipatory bail

New Delhi Oct. 10. The Supreme Court has held that taking cognisance of a complaint or filing of chargesheet cannot be a ground for refusing anticipatory bail to an accused by the Sessions and High Courts even in non-bailable offences.

A Bench, comprising Santosh Hegde and B.P. Singh, said the object of Sec. 438 Cr.P.C. (anticipatory bail provision) was to prevent undue harassment of the accused by pre-trial arrest and detention. "The fact that a court has either taken cognisance of the complaint or the investigating agency has filed a chargesheet, would not by itself, prevent the courts concerned from granting anticipatory bail in appropriate cases," it said.

The judges were of the view that the gravity of the offence was an important factor to be taken into consideration while granting such anticipatory bail so also the need for custodial interrogation, but these were the only factors that must be borne in mind by the courts while entertaining a petition for grant of anticipatory bail and the fact of taking cognisance or filing of chargesheet could not, by itself, be construed as a prohibition against grant of anticipatory bail.

The Bench made it clear that the Sessions and High Courts had the necessary power to grant anticipatory bail in non-bailable offences under Sec. 438 Cr.P.C. even when cognisance was taken or chargesheet was filed, provided the facts of the case required the court to do so. Otherwise the very object of this provision would be defeated, the Bench added.

In this case, a husband and wife were accused by their daughter-in-law of offences under the Indian Penal Code and Dowry Prohibition Act. Their anticipatory bail was rejected by the Patna High Court and the present appeal was directed against that order. Allowing the appeal, the Bench said both of them should be released on bail, in the event of their arrest on their furnishing a self bond each for Rs. 5,000 and a surety to the like sum and they shall abide by the bail conditions.