The Supreme Court has issued guidelines with respect to granting bail to accused who is not arrested during investigation on filing of chargesheet. These guidelines apply specifically to those who were not arrested during the investigation, cooperated throughout the investigation and appeared before the Investigating Officer whenever called upon. 

The suggestions for the guidelines were made by the Additional Solicitor General, S.V. Raju and Senior Advocate, Sidharth Luthra. The Court accepted these suggestions and framed the guidelines while hearing the petition of Satender Kumar Antil who was not arrested during the investigation of a corruption case but named in the charge sheet by the Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI (Satender Kumar Antil Vs Central Bureau Of Investigation & Anr).

The Supreme Court has directed the High Courts and the Trial Courts to adhere to the following guidelines while considering bail applications. For this purpose, various offences have been categorized on the basis of the quantum of punishment and the respective guidelines read as follows;

  • Category A Offences

This Category shall include the offences punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or less not falling in categories B and D. 

“After the filing of charge sheet or complaint taking cognizance: 

  1. Ordinary summons at the 1st instance/including permitting appearance through Lawyer. 
  2. If such an accused does not appear despite service of summons, then a Bailable Warrant for physical appearance may be issued. 
  3. Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) on failure to failure to appear despite issuance of Bailable Warrant. 
  4. NBW may be cancelled or converted into a Bailable Warrant/Summons without insisting physical appearance of accused, if such an application is moved on behalf of the accused before execution of the NBW on an undertaking of the accused to appear physically on the next date/s of hearing. 
  5. Bail applications of such accused on appearance may be decided without the accused being taken in physical custody or by granting interim bail till the bail application is decided.”
  • Category B/D Offences 

Category B offences shall include the offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for more than 7 years. Category D offences concern economic offences not covered by Special Acts. 

“On appearance of the accused in Court pursuant to process issued bail application to be decided on merits.”

  • Category C Offences 

Category C offences shall include offences punishable under Special Acts containing stringent provisions for bail like  Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (S.37), Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (S.45), The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (S.43 D(5), Companies Act, 2013 S. 212(6), etc.

  1. Same as Category B & D with the additional condition of compliance of the provisions of Bail under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (S. 37), Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (S. 45), The Companies Act 2013 ( S. 212(6)), The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (S.43 d(5))etc.”

The Apex Court has directed to send a copy of this order to the Registrars of the different High Courts which further shall be circulated to the trial Courts so that the unnecessary bail matters do not come up.

Conclusion 

The Supreme Court had noticed some trial courts insisting on the arrest of the accused persons as a pre-requisite to taking a charge sheet on record but there is no such pre-requisite.

In turn, the guidelines grant bail in a way that doesn’t fetter the discretion of the courts concerned and conform to the statutory requirements given under provisions of law.