Pendency of anticipatory bail plea no bar for trial courts to proceed with proclamation: SC

Pendency of anticipatory bail plea no bar for trial courts to proceed with proclamation: SC

New Delhi | The pendency of an anticipatory bail application does not bar a trial court from proceeding with steps for issuing proclamation notice and ordering attachment of properties of an absconding accused, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.

While observing that the power to grant anticipatory bail is an "extraordinary power", the apex court noted though it was held in many cases that bail is a rule, it cannot be said that "anticipatory bail is the rule".

A bench of Justices C T Ravikumar and Sanjay Kumar said the question of grant of anticipatory bail should be left to the cautious and judicious discretion of the court depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

"While called upon to exercise the said power, the court concerned has to be very cautious as the grant of interim protection or protection to the accused in serious cases may lead to miscarriage of justice and may hamper the investigation to a great extent as it may sometimes lead to tampering or distraction of the evidence," the bench said in its verdict.

The top court delivered its judgement on an appeal against an order of the Patna High Court which had dismissed the anticipatory bail application filed by the appellants in connection with an FIR lodged for the alleged offences under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Witch (Daain) Practices Act, 1999.

The bench said, "We shall not be understood to have held that the court shall not pass an interim protection pending consideration of such application as the section is destined to safeguard the freedom of an individual against unwarranted arrest and we say that such orders shall be passed in eminently fit cases."

It said when warrant of arrest or proclamation is issued, the applicant is not entitled to invoke the extraordinary power.

"Certainly, this will not deprive the power of the court to grant pre-arrest bail in extreme, exceptional cases in the interest of justice. But then, person(s) continuously defying orders and keeping absconding is not entitled to such grant," the bench said.

"In other words, it is made clear that in the absence of any interim order, pendency of an application for anticipatory bail shall not bar the trial court in issuing/proceeding with steps for proclamation and in taking steps under section 83 CrPC in accordance with law," it said.

Section 83 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) deals with attachment of property of absconding accused.

"We have already held that the power to grant anticipatory bail is an extraordinary power. Though in many cases it was held that bail is said to be a rule, it cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be said that anticipatory bail is the rule," the bench said.

Referring to the facts of the case, the apex court said they reveal consistent disobedience of the appellants to comply with the orders of the trial court.

While dismissing their appeals, it said the conduct of the appellants does not entitle them to seek the benefit of pre-arrest bail.

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