Q Why is it in News?
A The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has approached the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court order granting bail to an advocate and activist.
Q What is the case?
- In its bail order, the court has asked the NIA Court to decide the conditions for her release.
- The activist was given ‘default bail’.
- The case highlights the nuances involved in a court determining the circumstances in which statutory bail is granted or denied, even though it is generally considered “an indefeasible right”.
Q What is default bail?
- This is enshrined in Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- Also known as statutory bail, this is a Right to Bail that accrues when the police fail to complete investigation within a specified period in respect of a person in judicial custody.
- When it is not possible for the police to complete an investigation in 24 hours, the police produce the suspect in court and seek orders for either police or judicial custody.
Q When is the Bail granted?
- For most offences, the police have 60 days to complete the investigation and file a final report before the court.
- However, where the offence attracts death sentence or life imprisonment, or a jail term of not less than 10 years, the period available is 90 days.
- In other words, a magistrate cannot authorise a person’s judicial remand beyond the 60-or 90-day limit.
- At the end of this period, if the investigation is not complete, the court shall release the person “if he is prepared to and does furnish bail”.
Q How does the provision vary for special laws?
A The extension of time is not automatic but requires a judicial order.
- Ordinary law (IPC/CrPC): The 60- or 90-day limit is only for ordinary penal law.
- Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act: In NDPS Act, the period is 180 days. However, in cases involving substances in commercial quantity, the period may be extended up to one year.
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act: In UAPA, the default limit is 90 days only. The court may grant an extension of another 90 days, if it is satisfied that the progress made in the investigation and giving reasons to keep the accused in further custody.
Q What are the laid-down principles on this aspect?
- A matter of Right: Default or statutory bail is an indefeasible right’, regardless of the nature of the crime liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Stipulated period calculation: The stipulated period within which the charge sheet has to be filed begins from the day the accused is remanded for the first time. It includes days undergone in both police and judicial custody, but not days spent in house-arrest.
- Voluntary: There is no automatic bail.