This article has been written by Sujitha S, pursuing law at the School of Excellence in Law, Chennai. This article tries to elaborate on the concept of interim bail, a short-term bail, its conditions and grounds, along with relevant judgments and practical nuances.
It has been published by Rachit Garg.
“The issue of bail is one of liberty, justice, public safety, and the burden of the public treasury, all of which insist that a developed jurisprudence of bail is integral to a socially sensitised judicial process”. —Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer
With a strong history and roots in both English and American law, the law of bail is a significant area of procedural law. Now, what is bail? The term ‘bail’ has not been defined in the Criminal Procedure Code (1973), but it has been used there nonetheless. In all, the phrases ‘bail’, ‘bailable’, and ‘non-bailable’ have been used in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, numerous times. As such, bail is the release of a person who has been arrested by his sureties in exchange for their guarantee that he will come before the court and submit to its ruling at the designated location and time. Bail simply means a guarantee that a prisoner will appear in court before being released.
Sections 436 to 450 of the Criminal Procedure Code include the provisions relating to bail and bonds. Additionally, the bails are divided into three categories: normal, anticipatory, and interim bail, based on the severity of the crime. Let’s read the article in detail to learn more.
Bail : an overview
The word ‘bail’ comes from the old French word ‘baillier’, which means to give or deliver. The concept of bail is one of the core ideas behind the criminal justice system, in line with the fundamental values upheld in Parts III and IV of the Constitution, as well as the preservation of human rights as outlined in international treaties and covenants. For further understanding, consider the following:
- As per Wharton’s Lexicon and Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, bail is described as the setting free of the defendant by releasing him from the custody of the law and entrusting him to the custody of his sureties, who are obligated to produce him to appear for his trial on a certain day and time.
- The Supreme Court of India in Kamalapati Trivedi v. State of West Bengal (1979) emphasised that the right of the accused to enjoy his or her personal freedom and the public interest are two fundamental human values that must be balanced. The release of the accused is contingent upon the surety’s production of the accused in court to face the trial.
Classification of bail
Regular bail is given in situations where a person has already been detained or arrested. A regular bail application may be submitted in accordance with Sections 437 and 439 of the CrPC. According to Section 437, the court or a police official has the option of releasing an accused person on bail in a non-bailable case wherein there is no possibility of punishment such as death or life imprisonment. However, even if the crime of which they are accused carries a death or life sentence, a person under the age of 16, a woman, or a sick or infirm person may be freed on bail.
According to Section 439, the High Court or Court of Sessions has exclusive authority to grant or modify bail. The aforementioned courts have the authority to order the arrest and detention of a person who is accused of committing an offence and is being held in custody. They can also impose conditions on the accused’s release on bail and can set aside or modify any conditions that the magistrate placed on the accused’s release on bail. In the case of Manoj Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh (2019), the High Court of Himachal Pradesh determined that giving bail to an accused person serves to ensure their appearance at the trial.
A person may submit an anticipatory bail application if they believe they will be detained by the police for an offence for which there is no possibility of bond. Section 438 of the Code contains provisions pertaining to anticipatory bail. In Rahna Jalal v. the State of Kerala (2020), the defendant was guilty according to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. The Supreme Court discussed the awarding of anticipatory bail in a case involving Muslim women’s protection. It held that anticipatory bail may only be given after the Court granting bail has heard the complainant themselves.
Before the hearing for the grant of regular or anticipatory bail, a short-term bail is given to the accused. Such short-term bail is called ‘interim bail’. In Prahlad Singh Bhati vs. NCT, Delhi (2001), the deceased, the accused’s wife, is said to have been abused as a consequence of the demand for dowry. On 18.3.1999, the accused is said to have taken the deceased to his parent’s home where, in front of his parents, he poured kerosene on her and set her afire. According to Section 438 of the CrPC, the accused petitioned for the grant of anticipatory bail. The investigative agency did not make a genuine effort to resist the bail application, thus the Sessions Judge granted interim bail. However, the Sessions Judge noted that the State shall be free to arrest the accused if a case under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code (1860) is made out on the facts while rejecting a motion for cancellation of the anticipatory bail.
It is commonly referred to as default bail, compulsive bail, or statutory bail. This right to bail is granted when the police or investigating agency fails to submit a full charge sheet, challan, or police report within a specified period of time. This right to bail is given regardless of the case’s merits because it results from the investigating agency’s failure to complete the investigation within the specified period of time. In M. Ravindran vs. The Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (2020), the Supreme Court held that the applicant will not be eligible for default bail if the accused fails to submit the application and the police file the charge sheet in the meantime.
Detailed overview of interim bail
Prior to hearing the bail petition, the court may set interim bail for an accused person, which it may later confirm or even revoke. The ability of the High Court and Sessions Court to grant anticipatory bail is covered under Section 438 of the CrPC. The court may make an interim order of anticipatory bail as described in Section 438 while the application is pending. Final decisions must be made upon notification and hearing from the public prosecutor and the superintendent of police. If the accused’s request for anticipatory bail or interim bail is denied by the court, the police may detain him without a warrant.
According to Section 438(1), anybody who has a reason to suspect that they are being arrested for a crime may file a petition with the High Court or Court of Sessions. As a result, the application may be rejected or approved by the court after a thorough review. If the application is accepted, the individual will be freed on bail after being arrested. The requirement that the offence being considered be one that cannot be released on bail is the most crucial part of this provision. This clause makes it very apparent that the court’s discretion alone governs whether or not to issue anticipatory bail; it does not constitute a right. On the other hand, Section 438(2) outlines specific requirements the applicant must meet in the event the High Court issues a directive under Section 438(a). They are:
- The subject must be accessible for questioning whenever it is necessary.
- The individual shall refrain from threatening, coercing, or promising anybody who is aware of the relevant circumstances to divulge or expose any information to the police officer.
- Without the court’s previous approval, the individual may not leave India.
- It will be as if the bail was granted in accordance with Section 437(b) and the individual will likewise be subject to the restrictions listed there.
Last but not least, Section 438(3) makes it plain that if the application is approved, the individual who was arrested without a warrant would be freed on bail right away. In addition, any subsequent warrant issued if the magistrate takes cognizance must likewise be bailable.
Additionally, it complies with the idea of the fundamental right to life and liberty as stated in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. When the court is certain that the charge against the defendant is intending to harm his reputation and degrade him, interim bail may be granted. It serves as a strong deterrent to the police using their arrest power dishonestly.
Characteristics of interim bail
|Time||It is given for a short time.|
|Application||When an application for anticipatory bail or regular bail is pending in court, it is granted.|
|Arrest||Without a warrant, the accused will be taken into custody when the bail term has expired.|
|Cancellation||No special procedure is required to cancel an interim bail.|
Grounds for granting interim bail
General grounds for granting interim bail
The Hon’ble Delhi High Court stated in Parminder Singh and Ors. v. The State of Punjab, (2001), that interim bail should be permitted in the following cases:
- When there is no chance that the accused will escape prosecution,
- When there is no chance that the defendant may tamper with the evidence
- When there is no justifiable reason to conduct a confined interrogation, and
- When the hearing on the anticipatory bail claim must be postponed.
Special grounds with regard to COVID-19
Following extensive deliberations, the Supreme Court of India issued a decision in 2020, outlining the guidelines for bail during the COVID-19 epidemic. A High Power Committee (HPC) was mandated by the Supreme Court to be created in each state and the union territories (UT). In order to maintain correct social distance and prevent overcrowding of the convicts, the committee established will discuss and have total authority over all things relating to the award of interim bail or parole for a set period of time. There are several instances when the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor in the decision to grant interim bail.
In the case of In Re: Contagion of COVID-19 vs. Unknown (2020), the Delhi High Court extended interim bail for around 3,499 undertrial prisoners for an additional 45 days to relieve overcrowding in jails caused by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The High Court’s ruling was based on the high power committee’s recommendation.
In Natasha Narwal v. State of Delhi NCT (2021), the petitioner who was detained in February 2020 in accordance with the Unlawful Activities and (Prevention) Act, 1967 was given a three-week interim bail on humanitarian grounds when her father passed away as a result of COVID-19.
Conditions for granting interim bail
- The accused will be granted interim bail on a 2 lakh bail bond with two sureties. The accused must appear in front of the C.B.I. when necessary for questioning and additional investigation.
- In the case of Mohammed Zubair v. State of NCT of Delhi, (2022), the SC observed that the accused must not interfere with the witnesses or the evidence, and they must also refrain from speaking to the media about the ongoing case.
- The court has the ability to grant temporary bail, but its judgments must be reasonable and based on the law. This was emphasised in the case of Gudikanti Narasimhulu v. Public Prosecutor, High Court of Andhra Pradesh (1977), wherein the court ruled that it must be regulated by law as well as by humour and fancy rather than being arbitrary or vague. It must be consistent.
- After being arrested, the accused has frequently been granted interim bail. However, he escaped arrest, disregarded the rules, and failed to show up in court. As a result, numerous courts have ruled that in certain situations, no release should be given of any kind, even interim bail, and the matter should be handled severely. This has been observed in several rulings. The major cases include Niranjan Singh v. Prabhakar Rajaram Kharota (1980) and Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia Etc v. State of Punjab (1980). The Hon’ble Supreme Court in these cases rules that neither Section 438 Cr. P.C. nor interim bail should be used to give bail until the defendant surrenders to the Court.
- These are laid in accordance with Section 438(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The court has the authority to set restrictions on how one may interact with witnesses, whether directly or indirectly.
- The subject must also show up in person for police interrogation.
- He also cannot threaten or entice the individual who is aware of the facts in any way, whether it be direct or indirect.
- Additionally, he is not permitted to leave the country or the court’s jurisdiction without the court’s consent.
- Other specific conditions may be laid in case of granting of bail on special grounds such as on the basis of health marriage or the passing of his loved one.
Lal Kamlendra Pratap Singh vs. State of UP (2009)
In Kamlendra Pratap Singh vs. State of U.P. (2009), the Supreme Court reaffirmed that a judge considering a regular bail application has the inherent authority to grant interim bail while the bail case is being decided on in its entirety. When someone requests regular bail, the court usually lists that request after a few days so it may review the case diary, which must be received from the police authorities. In the meanwhile, the applicant must remain in custody. Even if the applicant is subsequently freed on bond, his image in society may have already been irreversibly damaged. A person’s reputation is a significant asset of his and one of the aspects of his right under Article 21 of the Constitution. Consequently, the Court noted that the court involved has the inherent authority to grant interim bail to a person until the ultimate disposition of the bail application.
Atik Ansari (In Jc) vs. The State, NCT Delhi (2006)
In this case, the applicant allegedly had 2.5 kg of heroin when it was taken from him, and he was asking for interim bail release on the grounds that his wife was ill. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hori Lal v. State (2009) regarding the granting of bail on the ground that the petitioner’s wife’s impending surgery was verified and also that, apart from the aged father of the petitioner’s wife, there was nobody else to look after her, was taken into consideration. Therefore, the petitioner was given interim bail on a personal bond of Rs. 20,000 for two weeks by the Court.
Poonam Rani vs. the State of Haryana (2012)
In this case, the issue was the granting of interim bail in accordance with Sections 21 and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS). On the basis of his health, the petitioner was given two-week interim bail. There was no one to take care of the petitioner’s wife while she was about to undergo surgery. His wife would lose the ability to get treatment if temporary bail was not granted. Furthermore, the petitioner had no prior criminal background. He was thus given temporary bail.
Arnesh Kumar vs. Government of Bihar (2014)
On July 1st, 2007, Arnesh Kumar and Sweta Kiran had their wedding. After several years of marriage, Sweta Kiran claimed that her in-laws sought eight lakh rupees, a Maruti car, an air conditioner, a television set, etc. When her husband was confronted with the situation, he also supported his family and was pressured to wed a different woman. She further claimed that she was expelled from the home as a result of the dowry demand not being met. Eventually, a lawsuit was filed against Arnesh Kumar.
Arnesh Kumar requested anticipatory bail and denied all of the allegations made against him by his wife. Both the Session Court and the High Court rejected the bail. He filed a Special Leave Petition with the Supreme Court of India after being unsatisfied with the court’s ruling. In addition to granting bail, the Supreme Court also addressed the abuse of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code. By establishing eight golden directives for arresting individuals under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, the Court came to its conclusion and rendered its verdict. They are:
- When an offence under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code is reported, every state government should appropriately direct its police officers not to immediately arrest a person. When the case falls within the guidelines of Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), an arrest becomes necessary.
- Section 41 (1) (b) requires that the checklist with the specific clauses be made available to all police personnel.
- When presenting the defendant before the magistrate for additional detention, the police officer must send the properly completed check list along with the information that led to the arrest.
- The magistrate should keep in mind that when approving the order for additional detention, he or she must depend on the report provided by the police officer and only after properly documenting the justification on the police report. The Magistrate will approve a new detention order after being satisfied.
- The decision not to arrest an accused person must be sent to the Magistrate within two weeks from the date of the institution of the case. This deadline may be extended by the district’s superintendent of police (SP) for a reason that must be documented in writing.
- Within two weeks of the case’s institution, the accused must be served with a notice of appearance pursuant to Section 41-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Superintendent of Police may extend this time period if the justification for doing so is provided in writing.
- If the police officer violates the aforementioned instructions in any way, the High Court with jurisdiction has the authority to penalise him or her for contempt of court.
- If a Judicial Magistrate orders the imprisonment of an accused without noting the reason, the Judicial Magistrate will be held accountable by the High Court for Departmental Proceedings.
Sharjeel Imam vs. The State of NCT of Delhi (2020)
The interim bail request submitted by Sharjeel Imam in this sedition case involving the alleged inflammatory statements he delivered in Delhi’s Jamia neighbourhood and Aligarh Muslim University against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was given notice by the Delhi High Court. Sharjeel Imam was denied interim bail by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat of the Karkardooma Courts, who also noted that Imam could not submit a new bail application or make new arguments regarding the merits of the application since the Court had already issued an order denying him regular bail and framing charges against him on the basis of the merits.
Priya Ranjan vs. State of Odisha (2021)
In this case, the issue was the application for interim bail. It was claimed that the petitioner’s mother passed away at S.C.B. Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack, and that he was the only son permitted to officiate at his mother’s funeral. Additionally, it is claimed that the application’s claims have been confirmed by the inspector in charge of Mahanga Police Station. After reviewing the case’s documents and circumstances, the Court granted the petitioner’s interim bail in exchange for a Rs. 50,000 bail bond.
The COVID-19 epidemic has prompted the Supreme Court to take deliberate action to reduce jail overcrowding. The Court took a humane stance toward the approximately 4 lakh prisoners confined in overcrowded jails as a swelling second wave caused significant fatalities. To avoid overcrowding in jails, a bench chaired by Chief Justice Ramana had earlier directed the police to restrict arrests during the epidemic. The Bench also recommended courts avoid automatically ordering detention in situations where the penalty was less than or equal to seven years in jail. The majority of states and union territories had High-Powered Committees set up to examine inmates and release them on interim bail.
The Chief Justice of India then unveiled the FASTER programme to speed up prisoner release. The new programme, known as FASTER, or “Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Records,” will make it easier to electronically send orders to jails, leading to the release of prisoners. The FASTER system development process got underway after the SC took suo motu notice of a case involving the delay in the release of convicts after being granted bail. In addition to guaranteeing quick justice delivery on the ground, the FASTER System will make up for this injustice against undertrials. The Supreme Court’s important rulings, including directives on bail and stays of arrest, may be transmitted electronically and securely to prison administrations and law enforcement organisations using the FASTER system.
The concept of the accused being innocent until proven guilty is highlighted through bail, which plays a significant part in the Indian legal system. One of the most essential fundamental rights that each individual has is the right to liberty and dignity. These rights also apply to those who are charged. These rights may not be denied to anyone. Thus, the granting of bail preserves the accused’s fundamental rights. The idea of interim bail is crucial because an accused person may be in danger of being detained even before the outcome of the hearing on his bail is known. Interim bail is therefore granted when the court is certain that doing so will prevent the accused from being unjustly imprisoned or detained. In general, the magistrate or court should use the ability to grant interim bail whenever it is practical. Such an exercise of authority will successfully dissuade abuse of the criminal justice system for purposes unrelated to its purpose.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between interim and regular bail?
A person requests regular bail after being arrested. He must seek bail because he has already been detained by the police and is in their custody. A court may issue interim bail, which is similar to temporary bail, while your application for anticipatory bail or regular bail is being processed.
Can an accused person get an interim bail?
However, an accused person or convicted person can request interim bail to avoid going to jail at that time until the higher court receives the necessary paperwork from the lower court.
What distinguishes anticipatory bail from interim bail?
Interim bail is not the same as anticipatory bail because the former is given while a bail application is still ongoing. Only those who believe they may be set up for the crime they are charged with and are keen to leave custody can benefit from interim bail.
Can interim bail be extended?
The interim bail may be extended, but if it isn’t and the accused person doesn’t pay the court to affirm and/or continue the interim bail, his or her freedom will be forfeited, and they will either be taken into jail or a warrant will be issued for their arrest.
- bail.pdf (ili.ac.in)
- (PDF) Laws relating to bail in india | Bhartiya Shodh – Academia.edu
- 17.Book Review_Upma.doc (ili.ac.in)
- Explained: The Concept of Interim Bail – Juris Centre
- Explained: The Concept of Interim Bail – Juris Centre
- Read all Latest Updates on and about Interim Bail During COVID-19 (livelaw.in)
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