Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi ((2020) 5 SCC 1)
Sushila Aggarwal v. State of NCT of Delhi
(2020) 5 SCC 1 : (2020) 2 SCC (Cri) 721
Supreme Court of India
Constitutional Bench - Hon’ble Justice Arun Mishra, Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee, Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran, Hon’ble Justice MR Shah and Hon’ble Justice Ravindra Bhat
ALSO KNOWN AS
Anticipatory Bail Case (2020)
POINT OF CONSIDERATION
The procedure established by law for depriving a person of his liberty must be fair, just and reasonable as envisioned under Article 21 of the Constitution of India
In the light of the conflicting views of the different Benches of varying strength, more particularly in the cases of Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia and others v. State of Punjab (1980) 2 SCC 565; Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra (2011) 1 SCC 694 etc. etc. the Supreme Court was given the task to clear the conflicting opinions arising out of two different sets of cases decided by the judiciary.
One set of cases being those following the decision in Mhetre [(2011) 1 SCC 694] where the court had held that there can be no limit as to the time duration of an order granting Anticipatory Bail.
The Other set of cases, guided by Salauddin [(1996) 1 SCC 667], had instead held that any order passed under Section 438 Cr.P.C. must be of limited duration.
In all of this, an important case was an old decision in Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia [(1980) 2 SCC 565], which had been interpreted and relied upon in both lines of cases.
Shri Harin P. Raval, learned Senior Advocate appeared as Amicus Curiae.
ISSUES RAISED & RATIO
Whether the protection granted to a person under Section 438 Cr.P.C. should be limited to a fixed period so as to enable the person to surrender before the Trial Court and seek regular bail?
The court held that the protection granted to a person under Section 438 Cr. PC should not invariably be limited to a fixed period; it should inure in favour of the accused without any restriction on time. Normal conditions under Section 437 (3) read with Section 438 (2) should be imposed; if there are specific facts or features in regard to any offence, it is open for the court to impose any appropriate condition (including fixed nature of relief, or its being tied to an event) etc.
The court, before which an application under Section 438, is filed, depending on the seriousness of the threat (of arrest) as a measure of caution, may issue a notice to the public prosecutor and obtain facts, even while granting limited interim anticipatory bail.
Section 438 Cr. PC does not compel or oblige courts to impose conditions limiting relief in terms of time, or upon the filing of FIR, or recording of statement of any witness, by the police, during investigation or inquiry, etc. While weighing and considering an application (for grant of anticipatory bail) the court has to consider the nature of the offence, the role of the person, the likelihood of his influencing the course of the investigation, or tampering with evidence (including intimidating witnesses), the likelihood of fleeing justice (such as leaving the country), etc. The courts would be justified – and ought to impose conditions spelt out in Section 437 (3), Cr. PC [by virtue of Section 438 (2)]. The necessity to impose other restrictive conditions would have to be weighed on a case by case basis, and depending upon the materials produced by the state or the investigating agency. Such special or other restrictive conditions may be imposed if the case or cases warrant, but should not be imposed in a routine manner, in all cases. Likewise, conditions which limit the grant of anticipatory bail may be granted, if they are required in the facts of any case or cases; however, such limiting conditions may not be invariably imposed.
The judgment in Mhetre (and other similar decisions) restrictive conditions cannot be imposed at all, at the time of granting anticipatory bail are hereby overruled. Likewise, the decision in Salauddin and subsequent decisions (including K.L. Verma, Nirmal Jeet Kaur) which state that such restrictive conditions or terms limiting the grant of anticipatory bail, to a period of time are hereby overruled.
Whether the life of anticipatory bail should end at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court?
The Court held that the life or duration of an anticipatory bail order does not end normally at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court, or when charges are framed, but can continue till the end of the trial. Again, if there are any special or peculiar features necessitating the court to limit the tenure of anticipatory bail, it is open for it to do so.
Therefore, unless circumstances to the contrary: in the form of behaviour of the accused suggestive of his fleeing from justice, or evading the authority or jurisdiction of the court, or his intimidating witnesses, or trying to intimidate them, or violate any condition imposed while granting anticipatory bail, the law does not require the person to surrender to the court upon summons for the trial being served on him. Subject to compliance with the conditions imposed, the anticipatory bail given to a person can continue till the end of the trial.
IMPORTANT CASES REFERRED
Shri Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia and others v. State of Punjab (1980) 2 SCC 565
Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra (2011) 1 SCC 694
Bhadresh Bipinbhai Sheth v. State of Gujarat (2016) 1 SCC 152
Salauddin Abdulsamad Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra (1996) 1 SCC 667
K.L. Verma v. State and another (1998) 9 SCC 348
Balchand Jain v. State of M.P. (1976) 4 SCC 572
State of Haryana & Ors. v. Sampuran Singh & Ors 1975 (2) SCC 810
Arvind Tiwary v. State of Bihar 2018 (8) SCC 475
Lalitha Kumari v. State of U.P. (2014) 2 SCC 1
Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar (2014) 8 SCC 273
M.C. Abraham v. State of Maharashtra (2003) 2 SCC 649
Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248
The author is a law graduate from the University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGS IP University, New Delhi.