In an appeal against the judgement and order of the Allahabad High Court wherein a Writ Petition was dismissed which challenged the Trial Court’s denial to grant bail, the Supreme Court stated that it is not mandatory for the Court to release an accused by accepting the bond as per Section 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code on the grounds that the accused voluntarily submitted himself to the Court and was not arrested during the investigation.

The Counsel for the appellant, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi, submitted that the Court was obligated to receive the amount of the bond under Section 88 Cr.P.C and release the Appellant as he appeared on his own volition and was not arrested during the investigation. Under these circumstances, the Trial Court has committed error in rejecting the request for bail.

ASG Maninder Singh, appearing for the Union of India, contended that the interpretation of the High Court regarding the implementation of Section 88 was correct as the Appellant was not only issued summons but a non-bailable warrant was issued against him as well as proceedings under Section 82 (Proclamation for person absconding) and Section 83 (Attachment of Property of person absconding) were initiated simultaneously. He further contended that the powers to release a person under Section 88 are merely discretionary power of the Court and any person cannot claim such release as a matter of right, in this case when the accused was summoned and also when non-bailable warrant was issued against him.

The Bench comprising of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan interpreted the meaning of the words ‘any person’ and ‘may’ with reference to the discretionary powers of the Court in interpreting Section 88 of Cr.P.C. The Apex Court stated that the discretionary power given to the Court is to ensure appearance of such person in that Court or to any other Court into which the case may be transferred for trial. It was further elaborated that the discretion under Section 88 does not confer any right on a person but it is a power given to the Court to require his appearance.

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Judgment: Pankaj Jain V/s Union Of India and Anr