A full bench of the Bombay High Court recently held that a person acquitted by a lower court is not entitled to bail as a matter of right if the verdict is appealed in a higher court.
The judgment will have a bearing on cases in which the state government appeals against the acquittal by trial courts. It was passed with reference to the bail application of one Balkrishna Lad,who had been accused of rape and murder of a minor girl,but was later acquitted.
A full bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar,R M Sawant and P D Kode was dealing with a question as to whether in such a case,the lower court has to mandatorily grant bail.
The bench said,Indubitably,a person acquitted of criminal charges by a court of law should not remain in jail even for a day after acquittal. But it does not necessarily follow that the subordinate court before whom the acquitted accused is produced… cannot commit him to prison even if the situation so warrants.
Under Section 378 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC),the state government can direct the public prosecutor to file an appeal against the order of a lower court. In such a situation,the High Court can issue a warrant directing that the accused be produced before it or a lower court. The lower court can either send him to prison or grant him bail.
In its order,the judges ruled,We hold that the accused is not entitled to bail as a matter of right merely because he has been acquitted.