The Supreme Court on Friday disagreed with a finding of the Madurai bench of Madras High Court that the lockdown in wake of the pandemic “is akin to the proclamation of emergency” and would disentitle an accused from default bail. The court reminded the ADM, Jabalpur, ruling of the top court in 1976, which took a similar view, no longer held forte.
The court said “the sting” of the ADM Jabalpur judgment “and retrograde steps taken in respect of right protected under Article 21 was… immediately remedied by the Parliament by way of the Forty-fourth Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978”.
The amendment said fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 20 and 21 cannot be suspended during the proclamation of Emergency.
“The view of the learned Single Judge that the restrictions… imposed during period of lockdown by the Government of India should not give right to an accused to pray for grant of default bail even though charge sheet has not been filed within the time prescribed… is clearly erroneous and not in accordance with law,” the SC ruled.
The court was hearing an appeal by one S Kasi against the High Court order on the May 11.
Arrested in a case of theft and trespass on February 21, he had moved for default bail after remaining in jail for 73 days.
The High Court rejected his plea, saying the Supreme Court by way of a March 23 order extended the period of limitation in various matters in view of the Covid situation and hence he will not be entitled to default bail.
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