Grant of bail: the question of delay, even in-laws like the NDPS Act

Context: Recently SC held that undue delay in the trial can be a ground for granting bail to an accused even under the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

What is bail?

  • The CrPC does not define the word bail but only categorizes offences under the Indian Penal Code as ‘bailable’ and ‘non-bailable’.
  • But in general, Bail is defined as the conditional release of a person accused of a crime, for an amount, pledged for the appearance of the accused when the same is due in court.  
  • The CrPC empowers magistrates to grant bail for bailable offences as a matter of right. This would involve release on furnishing a bail bond, with or without security.
  • Non-bailable offences are cognisable, which enables the police officer to arrest without a warrant. In such cases, a magistrate would determine if the accused is fit to be released on bail.

Types of Bail in India

There are three types of bail in India-

Regular bail:  

  •  Regular bail is the release of an accused from custody to ensure his presence at the trial in a non-bailable offence.

Interim bail:

  • This bail is granted as a temporary means and granted for a short period, either during the time of pendency of an application or when the application of anticipatory or regular bail is pending before the court.
  • It is always conditional and can be extended

Anticipatory bail:

  • Anticipatory bail is self-defining.
  • It is a type of bail that is given to someone who is in anticipation of getting arrested for a non-bailable offence by the police.
  • A person who has been granted anticipatory bail cannot be arrested by the police.

Conditions governing bail in a bailable offence:

  • Section 436(1) of Cr.P.C.  lays down the conditions under which bail can be granted for bailable offences committed under the Indian Penal Code (1862).
  • Whenever a person is arrested or detained by police for any non-bailable offence is produced before the court and is prepared to give bail, he may be released on bail.

Conditions governing bail in a non-bailable offence:

  • Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 states that bail can also be granted for committing non-bailable offences.
  • However, here the discretion is that of the Court and the accused cannot claim it as a matter of right.

Conditions governing bail in anticipation of arrest:

  • Section 438 of the CrPC lays down the procedures for getting bail in anticipation of arrest for a non-bailable offence.
  • The provision was incorporated as per the recommendation of the report of the 41st Law Commission.
  • There should be an element of apprehension, i.e. the person seeking bail feels that he will be framed or arrested in a false case or someone having enmity with him will try to get him arrested on the pretext on a fabricated charge.
  • Anticipatory bail can be granted only by a High Court or a Court of Sessions.

Other conditions affecting the grant of anticipatory bail:

  • The person concerned will have to make himself available for interrogation by the police.
  • He shall not make any direct or indirect inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case.
  • He will not leave the country without the prior permission of the court.

Bail Reforms Required in India

  • Grant of bail should not depend on the sections in which a person is charged, i.e., on the nature and gravity of the offence (which is yet to be proved), but it should be evidence-based and the careful understanding of the judge as to the probability of the accused committing the offence.
  • Revamping the system of arrest. The system should be made more rational, fair and transparent. For this, Section 41 of Cr.P.C. should be amended.
  • All statutes and laws should emphasize the principle of ‘innocence unless proven guilty’ and should be amended to the extent required.
  • Requirement of bond or security can be rationalised to avail bail to poor
  • Section 436A of the Cr.P.C. needs further reforms to deal with under-trials.
  • This is a gross crime against humanity that can never be rectified.
  • Ensure speedy justice.
  • A separate law for bail as recommended by SC.
  • Bail can be granted without a Bail application.

Practice Questions for mains

To what extent, in your opinion, the system of granting bail is responsible for a higher burden on the judiciary in India? Suggest some measures to reform the system of granting bail. (250 words, 15 marks)

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