The Bombay high court has ruled that a court can adjourn hearing of anticipatory bail pleas without granting interim protection from arrest in order to maintain balance between protection of a person's liberty and the effective and unhampered investigation by the state machinery.
Justice Mridula Bhatkar ruled while hearing anticipatory bail application by a couple — Shrenik Jain and Neena Jain — who are accused in a case registered by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
The duo had approached the high court after the sessions court refused to grant them interim relief from arrest and adjourned hearing of their plea seeking anticipatory bail.
Counsels for the Jains — Aabad Ponda, Sujay Kantawala and Devesh Tripathi — argued that whenever an application seeking anticipatory bail is made under section 438 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the trial court shall either reject the said plea forthwith or issue an interim order in respect of anticipatory bail.
"No third option is open to the court to adjourn the application without granting any interim relief to the accused. The words 'either' 'or' in the said section gives the court only two options and it closes the third option to adjourn the matter without passing any order," Ponda said.
Additional public prosecutor YS Shinde opposed their plea saying that usually the prosecution receives notice for such applications a day prior to the hearing. The prosecution requires time to put forth their case, and hence, often the courts adjourn the hearing without granting interim relief.
Justice Bhatkar was of the view that the court may either pass interim order or may reject the application forthwith or may adjourn the matter for a short period without passing any order.
The judge observed: "The power of anticipatory bail needs to be carefully used as the court has to achieve balance between protection of liberty of an individual and the effective and unhampered investigation by the state machinery. Therefore, though in many cases, bail is said to be a rule, anticipatory bail cannot be a rule but is left to the cautious, judicious discretion of the judge depending on the facts of each case."
"The order adjourning matter after passing the interim bail in favour of the accused may give setback to the investigating machinery to collect evidence and will push the victim and witnesses into a fearful trauma.
There are crimes which go unreported only because the citizens do not feel safe and assured to come forward and give complaint as they have apprehension that the accused will go scot-free or will be protected under law," justice Bhatkar further observed.
In the present case, justice Bhatkar has granted interim relief to Jains till further hearing before the sessions court.