In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court held that without completing investigation of a case, a chargesheet or prosecution complaint cannot be filed by an Investigating Agency only to deprive an accused of his right to default bail under Section 167 of CrPC.
The apex court bench comprising Justice Krishna Murari and Justice CT Ravikumar passed the judgment over a writ petition filed by Ritu Chhabaria of the Radius Group.
While having a discussion over the history of CrPC and the reasons behind multiple amendments in Section 167 of Code of Criminal Procedure, the top court bench stated if the Investigating Agency files a chargesheet without completing investigation, the same would not extinguish the right of the accused to get default bail. It further observed that the Trial Court in such cases cannot continue to remand the arrested person beyond the maximum stipulated time without opting arrested person default bail.
Case: Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India And Ors. WP(Crl) No. 60/2023
In India, the right to default bail is provided under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This provision allows an accused person to be released on bail if they have been detained for a period of 90 days or more in connection with a non-bailable offense, and the investigation has not been completed within that time frame.
If the accused person has been in custody for more than 90 days and the investigation is not complete, they are entitled to apply for default bail. Once the application is made, the court must grant bail to the accused person as a matter of right, unless the prosecution can provide satisfactory reasons for the delay in completing the investigation.
It is important to note that the right to default bail is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which provides for the right to life and personal liberty. The provision for default bail is intended to prevent the misuse of the power of detention by the state and to ensure that an accused person is not subjected to prolonged and unjustified detention.