[Statutory Bail] Bail court has no jurisdiction to consider merits of case U/S 167(2) CrPC: Madras High Court
The Madras High Court recently reiterated that a bail court, while considering an application under Section 167(2) CrPC, is not concerned with reviewing the merits of the case. The court should review such a request for default bail by considering whether the statutory time limit for filing an indictment or challan had expired, whether the indictment or challan had been filed, and whether the accused was ready and had posted surety.
Justice Murali Shankar, while overturning the lower court’s decision, also criticized the order made by the Sessions Judge. The court said it was shocked by the way the contested order was issued and the way the accused’s personal freedom was handled by the bailiff.
This Court finds it difficult to understand that the Judge of the Sessions, who has 19 years of experience in court service, ignored the legal provisions and the legal saying laid down by the Honorable Apex Court and the way he played with the personal liberty of the appellant/accused, completely unaware of a basic provision, which every officer dealing with criminal cases encounters day in and day out.
The court pointed out that in addition to experience, this legal knowledge was also continuously imparted through the State Judicial Academy. Thus, judging the behavior of the judicial officer unacceptable, the court ordered the Registry to ask for explanations from the judicial officer concerned.
Consequently, the Registry is invited to seek explanations from the Officer concerned in this regard.
The Court also emphasized that personal liberty is an important aspect of our constitutional mandate. The court discussed the view taken by the Supreme Court in Rakesh Kumar Paul v State of Assam (2017) where the Apex Court had held this in matters of personal liberty we cannot and must not be too technical and must lean in favor of personal liberty and that in matters of personal liberty under Section 21 of the Constitution of India there is no It’s not always advisable to be formal or technical
The accused, who was the sole accused in a crime for the offenses referred to in Section 376(2)(n), 417, 506(i) IPC and Section 3(1)(w)(i), 3(2)(v) ) of the SC/SC Act (POA) 1989, had applied for regular bond under Section 439 CrPC, but this was refused. Although he preferred to appeal, the High Court rejected it.
Subsequently, the accused filed another application under Article 167(2) CrPC which was dismissed by the Session Court. This impugned order was challenged in this case.
The High Court noted that even a simple reading of the contested order would show that the Sessions Judge had made the order as if the application was for an ordinary surety and not a surety under Section 167(2) CrPC. The Sessions Judge had failed to consider the legal precedents established by the Supreme Court in the decision of the Uday Mohanlal Acharya v State of Maharashtra (2001) and even recently in M Ravindran v The IntelligenceOfficer, Tax Intelligence Directorate (2021) in which the courts discussed how the magistrate/court should deal with bail applications under Section 167(2) CrPC.
Even at the Madras High Court in the decision of K. Muthuirul v. Police Inspector, Samayanallur (2022) had ruled that the bail court, while reviewing the bond under Section 167(2) Cr.PC, had no power or jurisdiction to review the merits of the case and to see if the elements necessary for the granting of a regular guarantee are available or not.
In this case, the final report not having been submitted even after the expiry of the legal period of 90 days. Thus, the judge of the sessions had no choice but to grant statutory bai. In view of the above, the court released the appellant/accused on legal bail with conditions
Case title: Kannan v. state representative. by the Deputy Superintendent of Police and others
Case no: crl. A (MD) No. 461 of 2022
Quote: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 341
Counsel for the Appellant: Mr. B Jeyakumar
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. B Nambi Selvan Alternate Prosecutor (R1, R2)