MADURAI: Observing that the Supreme Court’s order extending the limitation period for filing cases during lockdown cannot be taken as a ground to deny default bail to a person, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered the release of a man accused in a robbery case in Thanjavur on default bail.
Justice G R Swaminathan noted that according to Section 167 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a magistrate cannot authorise the detention of an accused if the police fail to file a final report against the accused before the expiry of his or her remand period (which maybe 60 days or 90 days depending on the case).
However, the Supreme Court’s order extending limitation period does not apply to Section 167 (2) of CrPC and would not affect a person’s right to get default bail under the section, as police investigations or filing of final report are not covered by the order, the judge explained.
Criticising the police for citing the apex court’s order as a ground for denying default bail to the petitioner, he said, “The executive (police) must exhibit nimble footwork and not hide behind judicial orders. Only little children hide behind the ‘saree end’ of their mothers.”
Pointing out that the apex court’s intention was to protect the litigants who might have difficulty in filing cases due to the lockdown, the judge opined that denial of default bail to the petitioner will not only go against the said intention but also amount to violation of petitioner’s fundamental right under Article 21.
However, the above observations would not apply to certain special laws, such as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and NDPS Act, 1985, he further clarified.
G Settu of Krishnagiri, the petitioner, was arrested by Thanjavur police in a robbery case on January 19, 2020. Since the police failed to file report in the case even after expiry of his remand period (90 days) on April 18, 2020, he approached the court.