High Court: Anticipatory bail is not fundamental right

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asserted that right to get anticipatory bail was not a fundamental right.

Justice Rajbir Sehrawat asserted that an accused as a citizen had a fundamental right to life and liberty. But the right to life and liberty could very well be curtailed in accordance with the procedure established by law.

Elaborating, Justice Sehrawat said the normal procedure for curtailing the life and liberty of an accused was prescribed under the CrPC, which made it clear that an investigating officer could arrest an accused even without warrant and without assistance/interference of the court.

But to ensure that a person was not unduly harassed at least in those cases where circumstances were leading predominately towards ex-facie innocence of the accused, the courts had been given special and extraordinary power under Section 438 of the CrPC.

“This statutory power of granting pre-arrest bail is so extraordinary that it is not even available in all parts of the country; and even throughout the country qua some offences under special statutes. Hence, right to get anticipatory bail is not any fundamental right. The provision of Section 438 of the CrPC provides only a remedy to an accused and leaves the extent of right to liberty to be decided by the court,” Justice Sehrawat asserted.

The observations came during the hearing of an anticipatory bail plea in a case registered on April 8 under the provisos of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act at the Naraingarh police station in Ambala district.

Dismissing the plea, the Bench asserted that a person arrested with “very heavy quantity” of contraband had specifically named the petitioner as the person who had supplied it to him. There was nothing on record, as of now, to suggest that the petitioner had no connection with the co-accused in any manner whatsoever.

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