In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court bench of Justice Manish Pitale at the Nagpur seat on Saturday held that in a case where the sessions court orders an accused to remain present before it and then rejects his or her pre-arrest bail plea, then the prosecution shouldn't arrest that person immediately. The bench said this would frustrate the accused's right to life and liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
The bench accordingly ordered the sessions courts to grant interim protection of minimum three working days, even if it rejects the pre-arrest bail plea, so that the accused can approach the HC.
"The physical presence of the accused before the Court at the stage of final hearing obviously exposes him to arrest, the moment his application for anticipatory bail is dismissed upon final hearing. It is obvious that the moment the accused is arrested, his right to move the High Court stands forfeited and frustrated," the judge noted, adding, "This would not only be antithetical to the right of the accused to move the High Court but it would strike at the root of the right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
"In order to address the apprehension of accused persons in Maharashtra of the possibility of arrest upon being present before the sessions court under CrPC and rejection of their anticipatory bail plea, the Prosecutor shall state cogent reasons while seeking the obligatory presence of the accused before the sessions court at the time of final hearing of the application for anticipatory bail," the judge said while issuing guidelines.
"The Sessions Court shall consider such an application and pass a reasoned order as to why the presence of the accused is necessary, in the interest of justice, at the time of final hearing of anticipatory bail plea. If it rejects the plea and the accused is present before it, the Court shall extend the interim protection operating in favour of the accused for a minimum period of three working days," the judge ordered.
The bench further said that the court can impose reasonable conditions while granting interim protection to the accused.
"In cases where the Sessions Court deems it appropriate to grant extension of interim protection for more than three working days, it shall record reasons for the same and in any case, shall not exceed a period of seven working days," Justice Pitale said in his orders.
HC was hearing a plea filed by a neurosurgeon from Nagpur, who was booked for fraud and cheating. He had filed an anticipatory bail plea before a sessions court in the district, however, the court there ordered him to appear physically for final hearing of his plea. He apprehended that if the court dismisses his pre-arrest bail, he might be arrested immediately. Thus, he moved Justice Pitale's bench seeking an order to the sessions court not to let his arrest despite rejection of his anticipatory bail plea so as to allow him to move the HC.