Statutory Bail or Default Bail – UPSC Prelims

What is Statutory or default bail?
  • Code of criminal procedure sets deadlines for investigative agencies to complete investigations during which the accused can be kept in custody. If the agency fails to meet these deadlines, then the accused becomes entitled to default or regular bail.
  • Under section 167 CrPC, the maximum period of detention is 90 days. However, under UAPA, courts can extend the custody up to 180 days.
What are the principles laid down on Statutory Bail?
  • Default or statutory bail is an indefeasible right’, regardless of the nature of the crime.
  • Stipulated period within which the charge sheet has to be filed begins from the day the accused is remanded for the first time. It includes days undergone in both police and judicial custody, but not days spent in house arrest.
  • Requirement for the grant of statutory bail is that the right should be claimed by the person in custody. If the charge sheet is not filed within the stipulated period, but there is no application for bail under Section 167(2), then there is no automatic bail.
Time Period for Statutory Bail
  • For most offences, the police have 60 days to complete the investigation and file a final report before the court.
  • However, where the offence attracts a death sentence or life imprisonment, or a jail term of not less than 10 years, the period available is 90 days.
  • In other words, a magistrate cannot authorise a person’s judicial remand beyond the 60-or 90-day limit. At the end of this period, if the investigation is not complete, the court shall release the person “if he is prepared to furnish bail”.
Statutory Bail Provision for Special laws:
  • The 60 or 90-day limit is only for ordinary penal law. Special enactments allow greater latitude to the police for completing the probe.
  • In the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, the period is 180 days. However, in cases involving substances in commercial quantity, the period may be extended up to one year.
  • In the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the default limit is 90 days only, which can be extended to another 90 days.
  • This extension in these cases can be granted only on a report by the Public Prosecutor indicating the progress made in the investigation and giving reasons to keep the accused in continued detention.
  • These provisions show that the extension of time is not automatic but requires a judicial order.
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