This article was written by Chitra, pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation, and Dispute Resolution from LawSikho, and edited by Koushik Chittella.

This article has been published by Shashwat Kaushik.


A recent judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Directorate of Enforcement vs. Niraj Tyagi highlighted the issue of pre-arrest bail orders granting complete immunity from arrest. In this case, the Apex Court expressed concern over a judgement of the Allahabad High Court providing blanket protection to Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd. and others against police investigation and arrest. The Apex Court vehemently dissuaded the High Court from passing such blanket orders restraining the arrest without the accused applying for the grant of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

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A pre-arrest bail providing immunity to a person from arrest has been a matter of contention in the Indian legal system for a long time now. The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgements and various judicial precedents emphasise the importance of adhering to the legal framework of anticipatory bail and avoiding practices like “blanket bail” that undermine the principles of justice and law. In this article, we shall understand the concepts of blanket protection and blanket pre-arrest bail in the context of anticipatory bail with the help of judicial precedents. 

Anticipatory Bail

The term “anticipatory bail” is not defined in any statute. The legal provision referring to anticipatory bail is provided under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It empowers individuals to seek bail before arrest, i.e., it allows an accused to apply for bail in anticipation of arrest for a specific non-bailable offence. Anticipatory bail is discretionary and can be granted by the Sessions Court and the High Court. There are several factors, such as the nature and gravity of the offence and the antecedents of the accused, among others, that are to be considered while granting pre-arrest bail.

Need for Anticipatory Bail

In its 41st Report, the Law Commission of India highlighted that influential people can manipulate the legal system by fabricating charges against their rivals to disgrace them or to get them detained behind bars. Moreover, there is no justification for mandatorily putting a person who meets all the compulsory requirements of bail behind bars to invoke the provisions of bail.

Blanket Bail

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has directed the High Courts in several cases to refrain from issuing complete immunity against arrest. Such pre-arrest bail orders granting complete protection are often called ‘blanket bail’. Blanket bail, therefore, is a concept granting absolute immunity against any kind of arrest, covering all potential offences, including those arising from future FIRs. It at times offers blanket protection against anticipated offences that may not even have been registered.

How is blanket bail different from anticipatory bail

Blanket bail is not a recognised legal concept. Unlike anticipatory bail, which is provided in the CrPC, there is no legal provision for ‘blanket bail’. Anticipatory bail protects individuals who apprehend arrest for a specific offence they may have been accused of. However, the concept of ‘blanket bail’ refers to a hypothetical scenario where an individual would be immune from arrest for any future offence, regardless of its nature. It is to be noted that the concept of ‘blanket bail’ is not a recognised legal concept.

Landmark judgements

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has passed several judgements illustrating the ambit of the High Court’s discretionary powers in the grant of anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and directing the High Courts to refrain from passing blanket orders of bail. It has clearly laid down in its judgements that the order for anticipatory bail should not be a “blanket order” and that it must not enable the accused to commit further offences and claim the relief of indefinite protection from arrest. A few of them are discussed below. 

Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia vs. State of Punjab

There is one crucial condition laid down under Section 438(1) of the Code that has to be satisfied before the grant of anticipatory bail. The applicant must have a “reason to believe ” that he may be arrested for a non-bailable offence, and his belief must be based on reasonable grounds. It is crucial to note here that mere ‘fear’ is not ’belief’ and so it would not be enough on the part of the applicant to plead that he has a vague apprehension that someone is going to accuse him, in pursuance of which he may get arrested. It is further laid down in the case that an order under Section 438 is a tool to protect the liberty of an individual but not a passport to commit a crime or a shield against accusations.

Vaman Narayan Ghiya vs. State of Rajasthan (2009) 

The Hon’ble Court, while rejecting the bail in the instant case, held that the reason to believe must satisfy the Court and guide it towards the requirement of anticipatory bail. The reason to believe the requirement of bail does not depend on mere suspicion of arrest; rather, it depends on the actual facts and circumstances. The accused must present some reasonable facts to the court, which might help the court in analysing the importance of granting anticipatory bail in the case.

Savitri Agarwal & Ors vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr

In this case, the Apex Court cautioned the High Courts against passing any blanket order of protection while granting bail. The Apex Court made it clear that when a High Court passes orders granting anticipatory bail, it should mention the specific offences for which the bail is granted. It was also laid down in the judgement that the High Courts should also impose conditions that can ensure uninterrupted police investigations.

Neeharika Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. vs. the State of Maharashtra

This is one of the important judgements when it comes to blanket bail. In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had directed the High Courts to abstain from passing orders, refraining the investigative agencies from arresting or “no coercive steps to be taken” pending the investigation as it would prevent the investigating agencies from carrying on their duties laid down by the law. The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that the High Courts can’t pass such orders, which act as a blanket order protecting an accused in cognizable offences and thus, defeating the investigation powers of the investigative agencies. This is also because granting such interim protection from arrest would then amount to an order of anticipatory bail, which would surpass the conditions prescribed under CrPC’s Section 438.  

The Kerala High Court in the State of Kerala vs. Ansar stated that it is not correct to pass blanket orders of bail against all sorts of accusations in cases where no crime is registered.

Section 482 CrPC and Anticipatory Bail 

The High Courts have been conferred with very wide inherent powers, including inherent power with no statutory limitation under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. These powers of the High Court are preserved to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court and to secure the ends of justice. However, in recent developments, it has been observed that the High Courts sometimes overstep their powers provided under this section. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has given clear instructions to the High Courts that they can’t use the ambit of their powers under Section 482 of the CrPC to grant anticipatory bail or any blanket protection while the Court is dismissing the petition for the quashing of the FIR as it would amount to misuse of their powers. 

State of Telangana v. Hamid Abdullah Jeelani

In the given case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed an order that, while refusing to exercise the powers provided under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, to quash the investigation, the High Courts can’t restrain the investigating agency from arresting the accused persons during the investigation. This kind of order would curtail the statutory rights of the investigative agencies.

Ravuri Krishna Murthy v. State of Telangana

The Hon’ble Supreme Court reiterated its previous decision in this case and made it clear that the High Courts cannot issue a blanket order to protect the accused from arrest while dismissing a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC. 


Anticipatory bail granting blanket protection to an accused is a serious concern as it interferes with the law and causes a miscarriage of justice. Anything that obstructs the normal course of the criminal justice mechanism is a matter of serious deliberation. This type of blanket protection may act as a licence for the commission of the crime in some cases where the accused is now immune from arrest and given a special lease concerning the investigation procedure. Furthermore, it is unjustified for the judiciary to interfere with the normal course of work of the investigative agencies. The Code of Criminal Procedure grants certain statutory rights to police and other agencies so that they are well-equipped to investigate in an unrestrained manner, but when the judicial authorities start overriding these statutory provisions in the name of blanket protection, the very basis of the justice system will be overridden, and one party will get an undue advantage in such cases. So, the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s concern over this trend of providing blanket protection from arrest is very much justified, and it is in the best interest of the public to abide by the Supreme Court’s instance on this matter.


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