State PCS

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A Court Recalls That Impacts the Rights of the Accused

Rights of the Accuse: SC passed an order seeking to recall its own decision in Ritu Chhabaria vs Union of India’.

Upon the insistence of the Solicitor-General of India (SG) that central investigation agencies were ‘facing difficulties’. 

The SC passed an order seeking to recall its own decision in Ritu Chhabaria vs Union of India’.

The apex court’s clarification that courts could grant default bail independent of and without relying on the Ritu Chhabaria judgment has caused concern among legal professionals.

Read also:- Pre-arrest bail or Anticipatory Bail

Right to default/statutory bail:

Rights of the accuse is a right to bail that accuse when the police fail to complete investigation within a specified period in respect of a person in judicial custody.

Rights of the accuse is enshrined in [Section 167(2)] the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) where 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.

A Magistrate can order an accused person to be detained in the custody of the police for 15 days

Beyond the police custody period of 15 days, the Magistrate can authorize the detention of the accused person in judicial custody i.e., jail if necessary.

However, the accused cannot be detained for more than 90 days, when an authority is investigating an offense punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for at least ten years;

Or 60 days, when the authority is investigating any other offense.

In some other special laws like Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, this period may vary. 

For example, in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the period is 180 days.

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”.

The right to default bail has been characterized by the court in multiple judgments as an indefeasible right. This right is derived from Article 21 of the constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty.

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What are SC viewpoints in the Ritu Chhabaria case?

The Supreme Court’s decision in Ritu Chhabaria delegitimizes such illegal practices. It held that incomplete charge sheets filed by the police would not bar an accused from applying for default bail.

The Court emphasised that the preliminary or incomplete nature of these police reports revealed that the investigation was not complete.

In Jasbir Singh (2023), the Supreme Court held that a complete charge sheet filed within time could not be rejected.

Because the investigation did not have sanction.

Read also:- Difference between civil and criminal offences

Why is the SC decision to recall its judgement in the Ritu Chhabaria case is alarming?

Right to default bail could be made subservient to concerns of ‘difficulties’ faced by investigative authorities.

The Supreme Court also agreed to defer decisions on bail for accused.

Persons across the country as per Ritu Chhabaria case guidelines.

It makes the matter even more serious.

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