Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Kurian Jospeh, MM Shantanagoudan and Navin Sinha, JJ asked larger bench to authoritatively settle the following questions in a clear and unambiguous way:

  • Whether the protection granted to a person under Section 438 CrPC should be limited to a fixed period so as to enable the person to surrender before the Trial Court and seek regular bail.
  • Whether the life of an anticipatory bail should end at the time and stage when the accused is summoned by the court.

The issue as to whether an anticipatory bail should be for a limited period of time was before the bench for consideration and it took note of the fact that there were conflicting views of the different Benches of varying strength on the said issue.

While the Constitution Bench verdict in Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia v. State of Punjab, (1980) 2 SCC 565, holds that anticipatory bail should not be for a limited period, the 3-judge bench verdict in Salauddin Abdulsamad Shaikh v. State of Maharashtra, (1996) 1 SCC 667, without referring to the aforementioned Constitution Bench verdict, holds that anticipatory bail orders should be of a limited duration only and ordinarily on the expiry of that duration or extended duration the court granting anticipatory bail should leave it to the regular court to deal with the matter on an appreciation of evidence placed before it after the investigation has made progress or the charge-sheet is submitted.

Amicus Curiae Harin P. Raval, hence, submitted before the Court that in the light of the two conflicting schools of thought the matter needs consideration by a larger Bench. According to him even the Constitution Bench in Sibbia Case does not, in so many words, lay down a proposition that the protection of anticipatory bail is available to an accused till the conclusion of the trial.

The Court noticed that in Sibbia case, the Court has only briefly dealt with the question of duration of anticipatory bail and has not laid down the law that once an anticipatory bail, it is an anticipatory bail forever. Hence, the Bench referred the matter to a larger bench. [Sushila Aggarwal v. State (NCT of Delhi),  2018 SCC OnLine SC 531, decided on 15.05.2018]

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