THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court has declined to grant default bail to an accused from Karnal in a case of corruption on the ground that he had remained in custody for less than two weeks. The accused, who is otherwise already on interim bail due to Covid-19 pandemic, had applied for the statutory bail as the police failed to submit the investigation report before the trial court within the prescribed time period under criminal law.
“The petitioner on account of outbreak of Covid-19 had been granted interim bail on March 31, which stood extended from time to time. He is still on bail, (and) now required to surrender in jail on September 4. The petitioner remaining behind bars for a period of less than two weeks till date cannot cry foul and ask for bail in terms of Section 167(2) CrPC,” said Justice Harminder Singh Madaan in the order.
The court further noted that the accused just wants to have a dual benefit under Section 167(2) CrPC but he is not entitled to such concession. “The law is well settled that the revisional jurisdiction of this court is quite limited. This court is to interfere only if there is an illegality or infirmity apparent on the face of the judgment/order passed by a court below or the same is perverse and not otherwise,” Justice Madaan said, adding the order passed by the lower court, dismissing a similar plea, is certainly not in violation of settled principles of criminal jurisprudence.
The accused was booked under the PC Act on March 18 and arrested a day later. However, he had to be released on March 31, due to the outbreak of coronavirus under orders of a High Powered Committee constituted to decongest the jails to control the spread of coronavirus. He later moved an application before the trial under Section 167(2) CrPC on the ground that the investigating agency had failed to file the final report within 60 days of his arrest. The prescribed time period for investigation ended on May 18 and police filed the report on June 25.
The lower court dismissed the application on July 3, saying he was granted bail due to outbreak of Covid-19 and same yardstick has to be applied in favour of police too which also was prevented from expediting the investigation due to the pandemic. In high court, the state government, which was represented by Deputy Advocate General Apoorv Garg, opposed the petition.
Section 167(2) of the CrPC
Section 167(2) of the CrPC is meant to ensure that the investigation agency completes the probe promptly. An accused can automatically be granted bail in case the investigating agency fails to file the report of investigation within a period of 60 days or 90 days, depending upon the type of case.
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