• Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia & Others Vs. State of Punjab

  • Supreme Court Of India

    PETITIONER:

    GURBAKSH SINGH SIBBIA ETC.

    RESPONDENT:

    STATE OF PUNJAB

    DATE OF JUDGMENT09/04/1980

    BENCH:

    CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ)

    BENCH:

    CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. ((CJ)

    BHAGWATI, P.N.

    UNTWALIA, N.L.

    PATHAK, R.S.

    REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J)

    CITATION:

    1980 AIR 1632= 1980 SCR  (3) 383

    1980 SCC  (2) 565

    CITATOR INFO :

    R              1982 SC 149  (259)

    E&R          1985 SC 969  (6,8,12)

    ACT:

    Bail-Anticipatory           Bail-Section  438  of  the  Code  of

    Criminal Procedure  Code, 1973 (Act 2   of 1974),  Scope of-

    Judicial   balancing        of   personal     liberty   and     the

    investigational powers of the Police, explained.

    HEADNOTE:

    The appellant  herein, Sri           Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia was a

    Minister of Irrigation and Power in the Congress Ministry of

    the Government            of Punjab.  Grave allegations  of  political

    corruption  were  made against  him  and  others  whereupon

    applications were  filed in  the High  Court of     Punjab            and

    Haryana under  section 438  of the  Criminal Procedure Code,

    praying that  the appellants  be directed  to be released on

    bail, in the event of their arrest on the aforesaid charges.

    Considering the            importance of  the matter, a learned single

    Judge referred  the applications  to a     Full Bench, which by

    its judgment dated September, 13, 1977 dismissed them, after

    summarising,  what   according to  it     is  the   true  legal

    position, of  s. 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

    (Act 2 of 1974) thus:

    (1)          The  power  under  Section  438,  Criminal

    Procedure  Code,           is  of  an  extra-ordinary

    character and  must be exercised sparingly in

    exceptional cases only.

    (2)        Neither Section 438 nor any other provision

    of the  Code authorises the grant of blanket

    anticipatory  bail   for    offences   not   yet

    committed or  with regard  to accusations not

    so far levelled.

    (3)  The said power is not unguided or uncanalised

    but  all    the  limitations  imposed  in      the

    preceding Section  437, are  implicit therein

    and must be read into Section 438.

    (4)        In addition  to the limitations mentioned in

    Section 437,  the petitioner  must make out a

    special case for the exercise of the power to

    grant anticipatory bail.

    (5)  Where a legitimate case for the remand of the

    offender to  the police custody under Section

    167(2) can  be made  out by the investigating

    agency  or   a  reasonable  claim  to  secure

    incriminating   material     from   information

    likely to be received from the offender under

    Section 27  of the  Evidence Act            can be made

    out, the            power under  Section 438 should not

    be exercised.

    (6)        The discretion   under Section  438 cannot be

    exercised with  regard to offences punishable

    with death  or imprisonment  for life  unless

    the Court  at that  very stage  is  satisfied

    that such  a charge  appears to  be false  or

    384

    (7)        The larger  interest of the public and State

    demand that  in serious cases like  economic

    offences involving  blatant corruption at the

    higher rungs  of the  executive and political

    power, the  discretion under  Section 438  of

    the Code should not be exercised; and

    (8)  Mere general allegations of mala fides in the

    petition are  inadequate. The  court must  be

    satisfied on  materials before  it  that       the

    allegations of mala fides are substantial and

    the  accusation  appears  to  be  false    and

    The argument  that the  appellants were men of substance and

    position who  were hardly  likely to  abscond and  would  be

    prepared willingly  to face  trial was       rejected by the Full

    Bench with  the observation  that  to     accord  differential

    treatment to  the appellants on account of their status will

    amount to negation of the concept of equality before the law

    and that  it could  hardly be  contended that  every man  of

    status, who  was intended  to be charged with serious crimes

    including the one under section 409 was punishable with life

    imprisonment, "was  entitled to  knock at  the door  of  the

    Court for anticipatory bail". The possession of high status,

    according to  the Full    Bench, is  not    only  an  irrelevant

    consideration for  granting anticipatory  bail, but  is,  if

    anything, an  aggravating circumstance. Hence the appeals by

    special leave.

    The appellants  contended: (a)  The power        conferred by

    section 438  to grant  anticipatory bail  is "not limited to

    the contigencies"  summarised by  the High  Court;  (b) The

    power to  grant anticipatory  bail ought  to be   left to the

    discretion of  the Court  concerned, depending on the facts

    and circumstances  of each  particular case;  (c) Since    the

    denial of  bail amounts   to deprivation of personal liberty;

    Courts should  lean against  the imposition  of    unnecessary

    restrictions on   the scope  of Section    438,  when  no  such

    restrictions are  imposed by the legislature in the terms of

    that section (d) Section 438 is a procedural provision which

    is concerned  with the personal liberty of an individual who

    has not been convicted of the offence in respect of which he

    seeks bail  and who  must be  presumed to  be innocent.            The

    validity of that section must accordingly be examined by the

    test of fairness and which is implicit in Article 21. If the

    legislature  itself   were   to           impose   an     unreasonable

    restriction could  have been  struck down as being violative

    of Article  21. Therefore,  while determining  the scope  of

    section 438,  the Court  should not  impose  any  unfair  or

    unreasonable limitation  on the individual's right to obtain

    an order  of anticipatory  bail. Imposition  of an unfair or

    unreasonable limitation  would be  violative of   Article  21

    irrespective of   whether it  is imposed by legislation or by

    judicial decision.

    Allowing the appeals in part, the Court,

    ^

    HELD: 1. The society has a vital stake in both of these

    interests namely,  personal liberty  and the investigational

    power of the police, though their relative importance at any

    given time  depends upon  the complexion  and restraints  of

    political conditions.  The  Court's  task  is  how  best  to

    balance these  interests  while    determining  the  scope  of

    section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. [393 C-

    D]

    2. The  High Court        and the  Court of Session should be

    left to    exercise their    jurisdiction under section 438 by a

    wise and careful use of their discretion

    385

    which by  their long  training   and  experience,  they  are

    ideally suited     to do.   The ends  of justice  will be better

    served by  trusting these  courts to  act objectively and in

    consonance with principles governing the grant of bail which

    are recognised  over the  years, than  by divesting  them of

    their discretion  which the  legislature has  conferred upon

    them,  by   laying  down   inflexible       rules     of   general

    application. It    is customary,   almost chronic, to  take  a

    statute as  one finds it on the ground that, after all, "the

    legislature in      its wisdom"  has thought  it fit  to  use  a

    particular  expression.     A  convention may  usefully   grow

    whereby the  High Court          and the  Court of  Session  may  be

    trusted to  exercise their  discretionary  powers  in  their

    wisdom, especially when the discretion is entrusted to their

    care by the legislature in its wisdom. If they err, they are

    liable to be corrected. [417 B-D]

    3. Section         438(1) of  the Code  lays down a condition

    which has  to be  satisfied before  anticipatory bail can be

    granted. The  applicant must  show that he has "reason  to

    believe" that he may be arrested for a non-bailable offence.

    The use of the expression "reason to believe" shows that the

    belief that the applicant may be so arrested must be founded

    on reasonable  grounds. Mere  'fear' is   not  'belief',      for

    which reason it is not enough for the applicant to show that

    he has  some sort  of a  vague apprehension that some one is

    going to  make an  accusation against  him, in    pursuance of

    which he may be arrested. The grounds on which the belief of

    the applicant  is based   that he  may be arrested for a non-

    bailable offence,  must be  capable of being examined by the

    court objectively,  because it     is then alone that the court

    can determine  whether the  applicant has  reason to believe

    that he  may be            so  arrested.     Section 438(1),  therefore,

    cannot  be  invoked  on            the  basis  of    vague  and  general

    allegations, as    if to     arm oneself  in perpetuity against a

    possible arrest.  Otherwise, the  number of applications for

    anticipatory bail  will be  as large,  as, at  any rate, the

    adult populace. Anticipatory bail is a device to secure the

    individual's liberty;  it  is  neither            a  passport  to   the

    commission of  crimes nor a shield against any and all kinds

    of accusation, likely or unlikely. [417 E-H, 418 A]

    Secondly, if  an application  for anticipatory  bail is

    made to the High Court or the Court of Session it must apply

    its own mind to  the question and decide whether a case has

    been made  out for granting such relief. It cannot leave the

    question for  the decision of the Magistrate concerned under

    Section 437  of the  Code, as  and when            an occasion arises.

    Such a  course will  defeat the    very object of Section 438.

    [418 A-B]

    Thirdly, the  filing of  a First  Information Report is

    not a condition precedent to the exercise of the power under

    Section 438.  The imminence  of a likely arrest founded on a

    reasonable belief can be shown to exist even if an F.I.R. is

    not yet filed. [418 B-C]

    Fourthly, anticipatory  bail can  be granted even after

    an F.I.R.  is filed,  so long  as the applicant has not been

    arrested. [418 C]

    Fifthly,  the  provisions  of  Section  438  cannot  be

    invoked after  the arrest  of  the  accused.  The  grant  of

    "anticipatory bail"  to     an  accused  who  is  under  arrest

    involves a  contradiction in terms, in so far as the offence

    or offences  for which   he is arrested, are concerned. After

    arrest, the  accused must  seek his remedy under Section 437

    or Section  439 of  the Code,  if he wants to be released on

    bail in   respect of  the offence or offences for which he is

    arrested. [418 C-E]

    386

    4. However,  a "blanket  order"  of  anticipatory            bail

    should not  generally be  passed. This    flows from  the very

    language of the section which requires the appellant to show

    that he  has "reason  to believe" that he may be arrested. A

    belief can  be said to be founded on reasonable grounds only

    if there  is something     tangible to  go by  on the  basis of

    which it  can be said that the applicant's apprehension that

    he may be arrested  is genuine.  That is  why, normally,  a

    direction should  not issue  under  Section  438(1)  to     the

    effect    that   the  applicant  shall  be  released  on         bail

    "whenever arrested  for which ever offence whatsoever". That

    is what  is meant by a 'blanket order' of anticipatory bail,

    an order  which serves  as a blanket to cover or protect any

    and every  kind of  allegedly unlawful activity, in fact any

    eventuality, likely or unlikely regarding which, no concrete

    information  can   possibly  be   bad.  The  rationale  of  a

    direction  under   Section  438(1)  is       the  belief  of     the

    applicant founded  on reasonable  grounds  that            he  may  be

    arrested for  a non-bailable  offence. It  is unrealistic to

    expect the  applicant to  draw up  his application  with the

    meticulousness of a pleading in a civil case and such is not

    requirement of  the section.  But specific  events and facts

    must be            disclosed by  the applicant  in order to enable the

    court to  judge of  the reasonableness   of his    belief,   the

    existence of  which is     the sine  qua non of the exercise of

    power conferred by the section. [418 E-H, 419 A]

    Apart from        the fact  that the  very  language  of     the

    statute compels this construction,  there is  an  important

    principle involved  in the  insistence that  facts,  on         the

    basis of  which a  direction under Section 438(1) is sought,

    must be            clear and  specific, not  vague and  general. It is

    only by            the observance            of that  principle that  a possible

    conflict between  the right  of an individual to his liberty

    and the right of  the police  to  investigate         into  crimes

    reported to them can be avoided. [419 A-C]

    A blanket          order of anticipatory bail is bound to cause

    serious interference with both the right and the duty of the

    police in the matter of investigation because, regardless of

    what kind  of offence  is alleged  to have been committed by

    the applicant  and when,  an order of bail which comprehends

    allegedly unlawful  activity of     any description whatsoever,

    will prevent the police from arresting the applicant even if

    the commits,  say, a  murder in  the presence of the public.

    Such an            order can  then become a charter of lawlessness and

    weapon to  stifle prompt  investigation into  offences which

    could not  possibly be predicated when the order was passed.

    Therefore, the   court which  grants anticipatory  bail     must

    take care  to specify  the offence or offences in respect of

    which alone  the order  will be   effective. The power should

    not be exercised in a vacuum. [419 C-E]

    5. An  order of bail can be passed under section 438(1)

    of the   Code without  notice to the Public  Prosecutor. But

    notice   should  issue    to  the  public  prosecutor  or the

    Government Advocate  forthwith          and  the  question  of    bail

    should  be  re-examined            in  the  light     of  the  respective

    contentions of   the parties.  The ad-interim  order too must

    conform to  the requirements  of the  section  and  suitable

    conditions should  be imposed  on the applicant even at that

    stage. [419 E-F]

    6. Equally         the operation   of  an   order  passed  under

    section 438(1)   need not  necessarily be limited in point of

    time. The  Court may,  if there   are reasons  for doing  so,

    limit the  operation of    the order  to a  short period until

    after the  filing of  an F.I.R.        in respect  of    the  matter

    covered by  the order.  The applicant  may in  such cases be

    directed to obtain an order of bail under Section 437 or 439

    of the   Code within  a reasonably  short  period  after   the

    filing of the F.I.R.

    387

    as aforesaid. But this need not be followed as an invariable

    rule. The  normal rule    should be not to limit the operation

    of the order in relation to a period of time. [419 F-H]

    7. Bail  is  basically  release  from  restraint,         more

    particularly release from the custody of the police. The act

    of arrest directly affects freedom of movement of the person

    arrested by  the police, and speaking generally, an order of

    bail gives  back to  the accused  that freedom    on condition

    that he will appear to take his trial. Personal recognizance

    suretyship bonds  and such other modalities are the means by

    which an  assurance is   secured from the accused that though

    he has been released on bail, he will present himself as the

    trial of  offence or offences of which he is charged and for

    which he was arrested. [397 E-G]

    The distinction  between an  ordinary order of bail and

    an order  of anticipatory bail is that whereas the former is

    granted after  arrest and  therefore means  release from the

    custody of the police, the latter is granted in anticipation

    of arrest  and is  therefore effective at the very moment of

    arrest. Police     custody            is  an   inevitable  concomitant  of

    arrest for  non-bailable offences.  An order of anticipatory

    bail constitutes,  so to  say, an  insurance against  police

    custody following  upon arrest  for offence  or offences  in

    respect of which the order is issued. In other words, unlike

    a post-arrest  order of   bail,     it  is      a  pre-arrest  legal

    process which  directs that if the person in whose favour it

    is issued  is  thereafter  arrested  on        the  accusation  in

    respect of  which the  direction  is  issued,  he  shall  be

    released on  bail. Section  46(1) of  the Code      of  Criminal

    Procedure which          deals with  how arrests  are  to  be  made,

    provides that  in making  the arrest  the police  officer or

    other person  making the  arrest "shall   actually  touch  or

    confine the  body of the person to be arrested, unless there

    be a  submission to  the  custody  by  word  or  action".  A

    direction  under   section  438      is  intended     to   confer

    conditional immunity  from this 'touch' or confinement. [397

    G-H. 398 A-B]

    8. No one can accuse the police of possessing a healing

    touch nor  indeed does anyone have  misgivings in regard to

    constraints consequent  upon confinement  in police custody.

    But, society  has come   to accept  and acquiesce in all that

    follows upon  a police   arrest    with  a  certain  amount  of

    sangfroid, in  so  far      as  the  ordinary  rut    of  criminal

    investigation is  concerned. It    is  the  normal  day-to-day

    business of  the police   to investigate into charges brought

    before them and, broadly and generally, they have nothing to

    gain, not  favours  at     any  rate,  by    subjecting  ordinary

    criminal  to   needless    harassment.  But  the    crimes,  the

    criminals and  even the  complaints can occasionally possess

    extraordinary features.  When the  even flow of life becomes

    turbid, the  police can   be  called  upon  to  inquire      into

    charges arising  out of  political antagonism.     The powerful

    processes  of     criminal  law  can  then  be  perverted   for

    achieving   extraneous    ends.     Attendant      upon    such

    investigations, when  the police  are not free agents within

    their sphere  of duty,    is a  great amount of inconvenience,

    harassment and humiliation. That  can even take the form of

    the  parading    of  a     respectable  person  in  hand-cuffs,

    apparently on  way to  a court  of justice. The foul deed is

    done when  an adversary         is exposed  to social      ridicule and

    obloquy, no  matter when and whether a conviction is secured

    or is  at  all        possible.  It  is  in  order  to  meet          such

    situations, though  not limited to these contingencies, that

    the power to grant anticipatory bail was introduced into the

    Code of 1973. [398 C-F]

    9. Clause (1) of Section 438 is couched in terms, broad

    and unqualified.  By any  known canon of construction, words

    of width and amplitude ought not

    388

    generally to  be cut down so as to read into the language of

    the statute  restraints and conditions which the legislature

    itself did  not think it proper or necessary to impose. This

    is especially  true when the statutory provision which falls

    for consideration  is designed    to secure  a valuable  right

    like  the   right  to  personal       freedom  and  involves the

    application of a presumption as salutary and deep grained in

    our Criminal  Jurisprudence as the presumption of innocence.

    [401 A-C]

    The legislature conferred a wide discretion on the High

    Court and  the Court  of Session  to grant anticipatory bail

    because            it  evidently      felt,  firstly,        that  it  would  be

    difficult  to        enumerate   the   conditions   under   which

    anticipatory bail  should  or  should  not  be      granted            and

    secondly; because  the intention  was to  allow  the  higher

    courts in  the echelon    a somewhat free hand in the grant of

    relief in  the nature  of anticipatory        bail. That  is      why,

    departing from  the terms  of Sections    437 and 439, Section

    438(1) uses the language that the High Court or the Court of

    Session "may, if it thinks fit" direct that the applicant be

    released on  bail. Sub-section    (2)  of   Section  438  is  a

    further and  clearer manifestation  of the  same legislative

    intent    to  confer  a  wide  discretionary  power  to  grant

    anticipatory bail.  It provides     that the  High Court or the

    Court of Session, while issuing a direction for the grant of

    anticipatory bail,  "may include  such     conditions  in    such

    directions in the light of the facts of the particular case,

    as it  may think fit" including the conditions which are set

    out in   clauses (i) to (iv) of sub-section (2). The proof of

    legislative intent  can best  be found in the language which

    the  legislature   uses.  Ambiguities         can  undoubtedly  be

    resolved by resort to extraneous aids but words, as wide and

    explicit as  have been    used in Section 438,  must be given

    their full  effect, especially          when to refuse to do so will

    result in  undue impairment of the freedom of the individual

    and the presumption of innocence. It has to be borne in mind

    that anticipatory  bail is  sought  when  there     is  a     mere

    apprehension of            arrest on the accusation that the applicant

    has committed  a non-bailable  offence. A person who has yet

    to lose  his freedom  by being  arrested asks for freedom in

    the event  of arrest.  That is       the stage  at  which  it  is

    imperative to protect his freedom, in so far as one may, and

    to give full play to the presumption that he is innocent. In

    fact, the  stage at  which anticipatory     bail  is  generally

    sought brings  about its  striking  dissimilarity  with         the

    situation  in  which  a    person who  is  arrested  for    the

    commission of  a non-bailable offences asks for bail. In the

    latter situation,  adequate data  is available to the Court,

    or can  be called  for by  it, in  the light of which it can

    grant or  refuse relief     and while granting it, modify it by

    the imposition   of all or any of the conditions mentioned in

    Section 437. [404 A-G]

    10. The amplitude of judicial discretion which is given

    to the   High Court and the Court of Sessions, to impose such

    conditions as they may think fit while granting anticipatory

    bail, should  not be cut down, by a process of construction,

    by reading  into the  statute conditions which are not to be

    found therein like those evolved by the High Court. The High

    Court and  the Court  of Session to whom the application for

    anticipatory bail  is made  ought to  be left  free  in         the

    exercise of  their judicial discretion to grant bail if they

    consider it  fit so  to       do  on the  particular  facts      and

    circumstances of the case and on such conditions as the case

    may warrant.  Similarly, they  must be   left free  to refuse

    bail if    the  circumstances  of   the  case  so     warrant,  on

    considerations similar     to those mentioned in Section 437 or

    which are  generally considered to be relevant under Section

    439 of the Code. [405 B-D]

    389

    Generalisations on matters which rest on discretion and

    the attempt  to discover  formulae of  universal application

    when facts  are bound  to differ from case to case frustrate

    the very  purpose of conferring discretion. No two cases are

    alike on  facts and  therefore, Courts     have to be allowed a

    little      free  play  in     the  joints  if      the  conferment  of

    discretionary power  is to  be meaningful.  There is no risk

    involved in  entrusting a  wide discretion  to the  Court of

    Session and  the High  Court in granting anticipatory    bail

    because,  firstly   these  are        higher courts    manned  by

    experienced persons,  secondly their order are not final but

    are open  to appellate    or revisional scrutiny and above all

    because, discretion  has always  to be   exercised by  courts

    judicially and    not according  to whim, caprice or fancy. On

    the other hand, there is a risk in foreclosing categories of

    cases in which anticipatory bail may be allowed because life

    throws  up   unforeseen              possibilities        and    offers    new

    challenges. Judicial  discretion has to be free enough to be

    able to  take these  possibilities in its stride and to meet

    these challenges. [405 D-G]

    Hyman and Anr. v. Rose, 1912 A.C. 623; referred to

    11. Judges        have to  decide cases   as they come before

    them, mindful  of the  need to    keep passions and prejudices

    out of   their decisions.  And it  will        be  strange  if,  by

    employing judicial artifices and techniques, this Court cuts

    down the  discretion so wisely conferred upon the Courts, by

    devising a  formula which  will confine   the power  to grant

    anticipatory bail  within a strait-jacket. While laying down

    cast-iron rules in a matter like granting anticipatory bail,

    as the   High Court has done, it is apt to be overlooked that

    even Judges can have but an imperfect awareness of the needs

    of new  situations. Life is never static and every situation

    has to   be assessed  in the  context of emerging concerns as

    and when  it arises.  Therefore, even  if this Court were to

    frame a 'Code for  the grant  of anticipatory      bail', which

    really is  the business     of the  legislature, it can at best

    furnish broad  guidelines and cannot compel blind adherence.

    In which case to grant bail and in which to refuse it is, in

    the very nature of things, a matter of discretion. But apart

    from the  fact that  the question  is inherently  of a         kind

    which calls for the use of discretion from case to case, the

    legislature has, in terms express, relegated the decision of

    that question  to the  discretion of the Court, by providing

    that it    may grant  bail "if it thinks fit". The concern the

    Courts generally  is to   preserve their  discretion  without

    meaning to  abuse it.  It  will      be  strange  if  the  Court

    exhibits concern  to stultify  the discretion conferred upon

    the Courts by law. [406 D-H]

    Discretion, therefore,  ought to be permitted to remain

    in the domain of discretion, to be exercised objectively and

    open to            correction by   the higher  courts.  The  safety  of

    discretionary power  lies  in  this  twin  protection  which

    provides a safeguard against its abuse. [407 F-G]

    12. It  is true that the functions of judiciary and the

    police are  in a sense complementary and not overlapping. An

    order of  anticipatory bail does not in any way, directly or

    indirectly,  take  away   from  the  police  their  right  to

    investigate into  charges made   or to  be made  against  the

    person  released   on  bail.  In  fact,       two  of  the  usual

    conditions incorporated            in a direction issued under section

    438(1) are  those recommended in Sub-section (2)(i) and (ii)

    which require  the applicant  to co-operate  with the police

    and to  assure that  he shall  not tamper with the witnesses

    during and  after the  investigation. While  granting relief

    under Section  438(1), appropriate conditions can be imposed

    under Section  438(2), so  as  to  ensure  an  uninterrupted

    investigation. One of

    390

    such conditions can even be that in the event of the police

    making out  a case of a likely discovery under Section 27 of

    the Evidence  Act, the   person released on  bail  shall  be

    liable to  be taken  in police       custody for facilitating the

    discovery. Besides,  if and when the occasion arises, it may

    be possible  for the  prosecution to  claim the     benefit  of

    Section 27  of the  Evidence Act in regard to a discovery of

    facts made  in pursuance of information supplied by a person

    released on bail. [409 D, 410 A-D]

    King Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmed, 71 I.A., 203, State

    of U.P.  v. Deoman  Upadhyaya, [1961]  1 S.C.R.          p. 14 @ 26;

    referred to.

    13. In Balchand Jain v. State of Madhya Pradesh, [1977]

    2 SCR  52, this Court was considering whether the provisions

    of Section 438 relating to anticipatory bail stand overruled

    or repealed  by virtue   of  Rule  184  of  the      Defence            and

    Internal Security  of India  Rules, 1971 or whether both the

    provisions can  by rule of harmonious interpretion,  exist

    side by side. It  was in  that context that it was observed

    that "As  section 438  immediately follows Section 437 which

    is the    main provision  for bail  in respect of non-bailable

    offences, it  is manifest  that the conditions imposed by s.

    437(1) are implicitly contained in Section 438 of the Code".

    These  observations   regarding the  nature  of  the  power

    conferred by  section 438 and regarding the question whether

    the conditions   mentioned in Section 437 should be read into

    section 438 cannot, therefore be treated as the ratio of the

    decision. [413 C-D, E]

    The power        conferred by  section 438  is of  an  "extra

    ordinary" character  only  in  the  sense  that     it  is     not

    ordinarily resorted  to like the power conferred by sections

    437 and 439. [413 E-F]

    Bal Chand         Jain v.  State of  M.P., [1977] 2 S.C.R. 52,

    14. Since           denial of  bail amounts   to  deprivation  of

    personal  liberty,   the  Court       should  lean    against  the

    imposition of  unnecessary  restrictions  on  the  scope  of

    section 438,  especially when no such restrictions have been

    imposed by  the legislature  in the  terms of  that section.

    Section 438  is a  procedural provision   which is  concerned

    with the personal liberty of the individual, who is entitled

    to the   benefit of  the presumption of innocence since he is

    not, on the date  of his application for anticipatory bail,

    convicted of  the offence in respect of which he seeks bail.

    An over-generous  infusion  of  constraints  and  conditions

    which are  not to  be found  in Section  438  can  make its

    provisions constitutionally  vulnerable since  the right  to

    personal freedom cannot be made to depend on compliance with

    unreasonable restrictions. [413 F-H, 414 A]

    Maneka Gandhi  v. Union  of India, [1978] 1 S.C.C. 248;

    15. In  regard to           anticipatory bail,  if the  proposed

    accusation appears  to stem  not from  motives of furthering

    the ends  of justice  but from     some ulterior  inotive,    the

    object being to injure and humiliate the applicant by having

    him arrested a direction for the release of the applicant on

    bail in the event of his arrest would generally, be made. On

    the  other  hand,  if  it  appears  likely  considering         the

    antecedents of  the applicant,    that taking advantage of the

    order of  anticipatory bail  he will flee from justice, such

    an order  would not  be made.  But  the            converse  of  these

    propositions is   not necessarily  true. That  is to  say  it

    cannot be  laid down as an inexorable rule that anticipatory

    bail  cannot  be  granted  unless  the      proposed  accusation

    appears to be actuated by mala fides;

    391

    and, equally,  that anticipatory  bail must  be      granted  if

    there is  no fear that the applicant will abscond. There are

    several other  considerations, too numerous to enumerate the

    combined effect            of which  must weigh  with the court while

    granting or  rejecting anticipatory  bail.  The      nature and

    seriousness of   the proposed  charges, the  context  of  the

    events likely  to lead      to the   making of  the  charges,  a

    reasonable possibility of the applicant's presence not being

    secured            at   the  trial,  a  reasonable  apprehension        that

    witnesses will be tampered with and "the larger interests of

    the public  or the  state" are       some of            the  considerations

    which the  court has  to keep  in  mind  while   deciding  an

    application for anticipatory bail. [415 G-H, 416 A-C]

    State v.  Captain Jagjit  Singh, [1962]  3 S.C.R.   622,

    JUDGMENT:

    CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeals Nos.

    335, 336,  337, 338, 339, 346, 347, 350, 351, 352, 365, 366,

    367, 383,  396, 397, 398, 399, 406, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419,

    420, 430,  431, 438, 439, 440, 447, 448, 449, 463, 473, 474,

    477, 498, 506, 508, 512, 511 of 1977, 1, 15, 16, 38, 53, 69,

    70 of  1978, 469, 499 of 1977, 40, 41, 81, 82, 98, 109, 130,

    141, 142, 145, 149, 153 and 154 of 1978.

    AND

    Special Leave  Petitions (Criminal) Nos. 260, 272, 273,

    274, 383, 388 & 479 of 1978.

    Appeals by       Special leave from the Judgments and Orders

    dated 13-9-77,   13-9-77, 13-9-77, 15-9-77, 13-9-77, 21-9-77,

    19-9-77, 23-9-77,  23-9-77, 23-9-77, 26-9-77, 26-9-77, 30-9-

    77, 7-10-77, 16-9-77 9-9-77, 20-9-77, 5-10-77, 20-10-77, 26-

    9-77, 20-10-77,  20-10-77, 19-10-77, 24-10-77, 25-10-77, 14-

    9-77, 24-10-77,  2-11-77, 2-11-77,  3-11-77, 2-9-77, 7-9-77,

    2-9-77, 9-11-77, 22-11-77, 23-11-77, 24-11-77, 13-12-77, 11-

    11-77, 23-11-77,  14-12-77, 13-12-77, 20-12-77, 3-1-78, 4-1-

    78, 5-1-78,  16-1-78, 18-1-78,     30-1-78, 25-1-78,  18-11-77,

    13-12-77, 10-1-78,  13-1-78, 1-2-78,  1-2-78, 8-2-78, 21-12-

    77, 1-3-78,  3-3-78, 3-3-78, 10-3-78, 8-3-78, 20-3-78, 17-3-

    78, 15-2-78, 17-2-78, 17-2-78, 24-1-78, 14-3-78, 14-3-78 and

    27-3-78 of  the Punjab   and Haryana High Court in Crl. Misc.

    Nos. 3753 M, 3719 M, 3720 M, 3916 M, 3718 M, 3793 M, 3565 M,

    3892 M, 3595 M, 3596 M, 4359 M, 3563 M, 3484 M, 4627 M, 3893

    M, 3894 M, 3587  M, 4540 M, 4908 M, 3031 M, 4934 M, 4916 M,

    4888 M, 4964 M, 4992 M, 3688 M, 4907 M, 5176 M, 5177 M, 5197

    M, 3564 M, 3716  M, 3717 M, 5344 M, 5558 M, 5079 M, 5613 M,

    5905 M, 5254 M,  5253 M, 5919 M, 5907 M, 6005 M of 1977, 45

    M, 68  M, 102 M, 246 M of 1978, 6114 M of 1977, 462 M, 248 M

    of 1978,  5240 M,  5892 M  of 1977, 19/78, 956/77, 104 M/78,

    104 M/78,  605/78, 5995 M/77, 941 M/78, 904 M/78, 1005 M/78,

    1137 M/78, 819 M/78, 1260 M/78, 866 M/78

    392

    & 541  M/78, 4897  M/77, 4758  M/77, 364 M/78, 1167/78, 1168

    M/78 and 1381 M/78.

    M. C.  Bhandare, Gobind Das, K. S. Thapar, Dilip Singh,

    Mrs. Sunanda  Bhandare, A.  N. Karkhanis,  Deepak Thapar and

    Miss Malini  for the  Appellants in  Crl. A.  Nos. 335, 365,

    430, 431,  506, 508, 499/77, 150, 141, 142, 153, 154 and for

    the Petitioners in SLPs 272-274 of 1978.

    Frank Anthony,  V. C.  Mahajan, O.      P. Sharma and R. C.

    Bhatia   for the  Appellants in    Crl. A. Nos. 336, 337, 338,

    350, 396,  397-399, 473,  474/77 and  1, 15, 16, 17, 69, 70,

    81, 82, 98 and 149 and 109 of 1978.

    Harjinder Singh  for the  Appellant in  Crl. A.  339 of

    B. S.  Bindra, S.            M. Ashri and Mrs. Lakshmi Arvind for

    the Appellants   in Crl.   As. Nos.  348, 366,  415, 420, 477,

    511, 512, 469/77 and 145 of 1978.

    P. R.  Mridul, H.            K. Puri, Aruneshwar Prasad and Vivek

    Sethi for the Appellant in Crl. A No. 346 of 1977.

    L. N.  Sinha, R.  P. Singh,  L. R. Singh, Suman Kapoor,

    Sukumar Sahu  and M. C. Bhandare, P. P. Singh and R. K. Jain

    for the  Appellants in    Crl. A.  Nos. 351, 352, 406, 438-40,

    463/77.

    S. K. Jain for the Appellant in Crl. A. No. 53/78.

    V. M.  Tarkunde, M.  M. L. Srivastava, R. Satish and E.

    C. Agrawala for the Appellant in Crl. A. Nos. 367/77 and SLP

    383/78.

    V. C.  Mahajan, Harbhagwan     Singh, S.  K. Mehta,  K. R.

    Nagaraja and  P. N.  Puri for  the Appellant in Crl. A. Nos.

    383/78 and 498/77.

    K. K. Mohan for the Petitioner in SLP 260/78.

    A. K.  Sen and Rathin Dass for the Appellant in Crl. A.

    Nos. 40, 41/78.

    M. M. L. Srivastava for the Petitioner in SLP 388/78.

    L. M.  Singhvi and N. S. Das Behl for the Appellants in

    Crl. A. No. 38/78 and for the Petitioner in SLP 479/78.

    Soli. J.  Sorabjee,  Addl.            Sol.  Genl.  Bishamber  Lal

    Khanna, Hardev            Singh, R.  S. Sodhi  and B. B. Singh for the

    Appellants in  Crl. As.    Nos. 477-449/77  and respondents in

    Crl. A.  Nos. 335-339,347,350,   352,366,367,388,396-398,406,

    415-420,438-440,463,473,474,477, 498,  511/77, 1,  15-17/78,

    469, 510/77,  109/78 and  for the  Petitioners in  SLP       Nos.

    388/78, Crl. A. No. 98/78 & SLP 260/78.

    393

    Soli. J. Sorabjee Addl. Sol. Genl., Thakur Naubat Singh

    Adv. Genl.  Haryana, S.            N. Anand and R. N. Sachthey for the

    Respondents, in Crl. A. Nos. 365, 430, & 431/77, 508, 499/78

    and 38, 141 and 142/78.

    M. M. Kshatriya and G. S. Chatterjee for Respondents in

    Crl. A. Nos. 40 and 41 of 1978.

    M. M. Kshatriya and G. S. Chatterjee for Respondents in

    Crl. A. 346/77.

    J. K.  Gupta, B.  R. Agarwala  and Janendra Lal for the

    Vice-Chancellor, Punjab University in Crl. A. No. 346/77.

    The Judgment of the Court was delivered by

    CHANDRACHUD,  C.J.-These    appeals by   Special  Leave

    involve a  question of    great public  importance bearing, at

    once, on  personal liberty and the investigational powers of

    the police.  The society  has a vital stake in both of these

    interests, though  their relative  importance at  any  given

    time depends upon the complexion and restraints of political

    conditions. Our task in these appeals in how best to balance

    these interests   while determining  the scope of Section 438

    of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Act No. 2 of 1974).

    Section 438  provides for the issuance of direction for

    the grant  of bail  to a  person who  apprehends arrest.  It

    reads thus:

    "438. (1)  When any  person has  reason to believe

    that he  may be  arrested on  an accusation  of  having

    committed a  non-bailable offence,         he may apply to the

    High Court       or the  Court of  Session for    a  direction

    under this         section; and  that Court  may, if it thinks

    fit, direct  that in the event of such arrest, he shall

    be released on bail.

    (2) When  the High  Court or    the Court of Session

    makes a direction under sub-section (1), it may include

    such conditions  in such directions in the light of the

    facts of  the particular  case, as  it may  think   fit,

    including-

    (i)         a  condition  that  the    person shall     make

    himself  available  for     interrogation  by  a

    police officer as and when required;

    (ii)        a  condition  that  the    person shall     not,

    directly or  indirectly, make any inducement,

    threat or  promise to  any person  acquainted

    with the facts of the case so

    394

    as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts

    to the Court or to any police officer;

    (iii) a condition that the person shall not leave

    India without  the previous permission of the

    Court;

    (iv) such  other condition as may be imposed under

    sub-section (3)  of section  437, as  if      the

    bail were granted under that section.

    (3) If  such person is thereafter arrested without

    warrant by       an officer in charge of a police station on

    such accusation,  and is prepared either at the time of

    arrest or           at any   time while  in the  custody of     such

    officer to give bail, he shall be released on bail; and

    if a  Magistrate  taking  cognizance  of  such  offence

    decides that  a  warrant  should  issue  in  the  first

    instance against that person, he shall issue a bailable

    warrant in         conformity with  the direction of the Court

    under sub-section (1)."

    Criminal Appeal  No. 335  of 1975 which is the first of

    the many  appeals before  us, arises out of a judgment dated

    September 13,  1977 of  a Full    Bench of  the High  Court of

    Punjab and  Haryana. The  appellant  herein,  Shri  Gurbaksh

    Singh Sibbia,  was a Minister of Irrigation and Power in the

    Congress  Ministry   of  the  Government  of  Punjab.  Grave

    allegations of     political corruption  were made  against him

    and others  whereupon, applications  were filed in the High

    Court of  Punjab and Haryana under Section 438, praying that

    the appellants    be directed  to be  released on bail, in the

    event of  their arrest on the aforesaid charges. Considering

    the  importance of  the  matter,  a  learned  Single  Judge

    referred the  applications to  a Full  Bench, which  by     its

    judgment dated September 13, 1977 dismissed them.

    The Code  of Criminal  Procedure, 1898  did not contain

    any specific  provision corresponding to the present Section

    438. Under  the old  Code, there  was a sharp difference of

    opinion amongst           the various  High Courts on the question as

    to whether courts had the inherent power to pass an order of

    bail in   anticipation of  arrest, the  preponderance of view

    being that  it     did  not  have   such  power.  The  need           for

    extensive amendments  to the  Code of Criminal Procedure was

    felt for  a long  time and  various suggestions were made in

    different quarters  in order to make the Code more effective

    and comprehensive.  The Law Commission of India, in its 41st

    Report dated September 24, 1969 pointed out the necessity of

    introducing a provision in the Code en-

    395

    abling the  High Court   and the Court of  Session to  grant

    "anticipatory bail".  It observed  in paragraph    39.9 of its

    report (Volume I):

    "39.9. The suggestion for directing the release of

    a person on bail prior to his arrest (commonly known as

    "anticipatory bail")  was carefully  considered by            us.

    Though there  is a         conflict of  judicial opinion about

    the power         of a  Court to    grant anticipatory bail, the

    majority view  is that there is no such power under the

    existing provisions  of the  Code.           The  necessity  for

    granting  anticipatory   bail  arises   mainly  because

    sometimes influential  persons try           to implicate  their

    rivals in false cases  for the  purpose of  disgracing

    them or  for other purposes by getting them detained in

    jail  for  some  days.   In  recent  times,  with     the

    accentuation of  political rivalry,  this     tendency  is

    showing signs  of steady  increase.  Apart          from  false

    cases, where  there are  reasonable grounds for holding

    that a  person accused  of an  offence is not likely to

    abscond, or otherwise misuse his liberty while on bail,

    there seems  no justification  to require  him first to

    submit to          custody, remain            in prison for some days and

    then apply for bail.

    We recommend the acceptance of this suggestion. We

    are further  of the view that this special power should

    be conferred  only on  the High  Court and the Court of

    Session, and  that the  order should take effect at the

    time of arrest or thereafter.

    In order to settle the details of this suggestion,

    the following  draft of  a new  section is placed for

    consideration:

    "497A. (1)  When any  person has a reasonable

    apprehension that he would be arrested on an accusation

    of having          committed a  non-bailable  offence,  he  may

    apply to  the High         Court or the Court of Session for a

    direction under  this section.  That Court           may, in its

    discretion, direct           that in the event of his arrest, he

    shall be released on bail.

    (2)        A Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence

    against that  person shall,  while taking  steps  under

    section 204(1),  either issue  summons  or           a  bailable

    warrant as        indicated in  the direction  of  the  Court

    under sub-section (1).

    (3)        if any    person in  respect of  whom  such  a

    direction is  made is  arrested without  warrant by  an

    officer in           charge of a police station on an accusation

    of having com-

    396

    mitted that offence, and is prepared either at the time

    of arrest            or at  any time while in the custody of such

    officer to           give bail, such person shall be released on

    bail."

    We considered  carefully the     question  of  laying

    down in  the statute  certain  conditions under  which

    alone anticipatory         bail could be granted. But we found

    that  it   may  not   be  practicable  to     exhaustively

    enumerate those  conditions; and  moreover, the  laying

    down of  such conditions may be construed as prejudging

    (partially at  any rate) the whole case. Hence we would

    leave it  to the discretion of the court and prefer not

    to fetter            such discretion  in the   statutory provision

    itself. Superior  Courts  will,  undoubtedly,  exercise

    their   discretion              properly,   and   not     make  any

    observations in  the order         granting anticipatory    bail

    which will         have a tendency to prejudice the fair trial

    of the accused."

    The suggestion  made by  the  Law        Commission  was,  in

    principle,  accepted   by  the     Central  Government   which

    introduced Clause  447 in  the Draft  Bill of  the  Code  of

    Criminal Procedure,  1970  with a  view  to  conferring  an

    express power  on the High Court and the Court of Session to

    grant anticipatory bail. That Clause read thus:

    "447. (1)  When any  person has  reason to believe

    that he  would be          arrested on  an accusation of having

    committed a  non-bailable offence,         he may apply to the

    High Court       or the  Court of  Session for    a  direction

    under this         section; and  that Court  may, if it thinks

    fit, direct  that in the event of such arrest, he shall

    be released on bail.

    (2) If  such person is thereafter arrested without

    warrant by       an officer in charge of a police station on

    such accusation,  and is prepared either at the time of

    arrest or           at any   time while  in the  custody of     such

    officer to give bail, he shall be released on bail; and

    if a  Magistrate  taking  cognizance  of  such  offence

    decides that  a  warrant  should  issue  in  the  first

    instance against that person, he shall issue a bailable

    warrant in         conformity with  the direction of the Court

    under sub-section (1)."

    The Law  Commission, in paragraph 31 of its 48th Report

    (1972), made the following comments on the aforesaid Clause.

    "31. The Bill introduces a provision for the grant

    of         anticipatory     bail.  This   is  substantially           in

    accordance with the recommendation made by the previous

    Commission. We

    397

    agree that         this would  be a useful addition, though we

    must add that it is in very exceptional cases that such

    a power should be exercised.

    We are further of the view that in order to ensure

    that the  provision is not put to abuse at the instance

    of unscrupulous  petitioners, the final order should be

    made only        after notice  to the  Public Prosecutor. The

    initial order  should only            be an interim one. Further,

    the relevant  section should  make it  clear  that  the

    direction           can   be  issued  only    for  reasons  to  be

    recorded, and  if the  court is  satisfied that  such a

    direction is necessary in the interests of justice.

    It will  also be convenient to provide that notice

    of the  interim order  as well  as of  the final orders

    will  be  given  to   the   Superintendent              of  Police

    forthwith."

    Clause 447  of the  Draft Bill       of  1970  was  enacted   with

    certain modifications  and became Section 438 of the Code of

    Criminal Procedure,  1973 which            we have  extracted  at  the

    outset of this judgment.

    The facility  which Section  438 affords  is  generally

    referred to  as 'anticipatory bail', an expression which was

    used by            the Law  Commission in its 41st report. Neither the

    section nor  its marginal  note so  describes  it  but,        the

    expression 'anticipatory  bail'     is  a     convenient  mode  of

    conveying  that              it  is  possible  to          apply  for  bail  in

    anticipation of arrest. Any order of bail can, of course, be

    effective only    from the  time of  arrest because,  to grant

    bail, as  stated in  Wharton's Law  Lexicon, is      to 'set  at

    liberty a  person arrested  or imprisoned, on security being

    taken for  his appearance'.  Thus, bail is basically release

    from restraint,   more particularly, release from the custody

    of the police. The act of arrest directly affects freedom of

    movement of  the person arrested by the police, and speaking

    generally, an  order of  bail gives back to the accused that

    freedom on  condition that he will appear to take his trial.

    Personal  recognisance, suretyship  bonds  and such  other

    modalities are    the means  by which  an assurance is secured

    from the  accused that   though he has been released on bail,

    he will   present himself at the trial of offence or offences

    of which  he is  charged and  for which he was arrested. The

    distinction between  an ordinary  order of bail and an order

    of anticipatory  bail is  that whereas the former is granted

    after arrest and therefore means release from the custody of

    the police,  the latter is granted in anticipation of arrest

    and is   therefore effective  at the  very moment  of arrest.

    Police custody  is an  inevitable concomitant  of arrest for

    non-bailable  offences.    An  order   of  anticipatory      bail

    constitutes, so   to say, an insurance against police custody

    following upon arrest for offence or offences in respect of

    which the order is

    398

    issued. In  other words, unlike a post-arrest order of bail,

    it is  a pre-arrest  legal process which directs that if the

    person in  whose favour           it is issued is thereafter arrested

    on the  accusation in  respect of  which  the  direction  is

    issued, he  shall be  released on bail. Section 46(1) of the

    Code of            Criminal Procedure which deals with how arrests are

    to be  made, provides  that in making the arrest, the police

    officer or  other person  making the  arrest "shall actually

    touch or  confine the  body of  the person  to be  arrested,

    unless there  be a  submission to  the custody    by  word  or

    action". A direction under section 438 is intended to confer

    conditional immunity from this 'touch' or confinement.

    No one  can accuse       the police  of possessing a healing

    touch nor  indeed does anyone have  misgivings in regard to

    constraints consequent  upon confinement  in police custody.

    But, society  has come   to accept  and acquiesce in all that

    follows upon  a police   arrest    with  a  certain  amount  of

    sangfroid, in  so  far      as  the  ordinary  rut    of  criminal

    investigation is  concerned. It    is  the  normal  day-to-day

    business of  the police   to investigate into charges brought

    before them and, broadly and generally, they have nothing to

    gain, not  favours  at     any  rate,  by    subjecting  ordinary

    criminals  to  needless    harassment.  But  the    crimes,  the

    criminals and even the complainants can occasionally possess

    extra-ordinary features.  When the even flow of life becomes

    turbid, the  police can   be  called  upon  to  inquire      into

    charges arising  out of  political antagonism.     The powerful

    processes  of     criminal  law  can  then  be  perverted   for

    achieving   extraneous    ends.     Attendant      upon    such

    investigations, when  the police  are not free agents within

    their sphere  of duty,    is a  great amount of inconvenience,

    harassment and humiliation. That  can even take the form of

    the  parading    of  a     respectable  person   in  handcuffs,

    apparently on  way to  a court  of justice. The foul deed is

    done when  an adversary         is exposed  to social      ridicule and

    obloquy, no  matter when and whether a conviction is secured

    or is  at  all        possible.  It  is  in  order  to  meet          such

    situations, though  not limited to these contingencies, that

    the power to grant anticipatory bail was introduced into the

    Code of 1973.

    Are we  right in  saying that  the power  conferred  by

    section 438  to grant  anticipatory bail  is "not limited to

    these contingencies"? In fact that is one of the main points

    of controversy  between the parties. Whereas it is argued by

    Shri M. C. Bhandare, Shri O. P. Sharma and the other learned

    counsel who  appear for           the appellants   that the  power  to

    grant anticipatory  bail ought    to be left to the discretion

    of  the    court  concerned,   depending           on  the  facts    and

    circumstances of  each particular  case, it is argued by the

    learned Additional  Solicitor General on behalf of the State

    Government that the grant of anticipatory bail should

    399

    at least  be conditional  upon the applicant showing that he

    is likely  to be arrested for an ulterior motive, that is to

    say, that  the proposed charge or  charges  are  evidently

    baseless and  are actuated  by mala fides. It is argued that

    anticipatory bail is an extra-ordinary remedy and therefore,

    whenever it  appears that the proposed accusations are prima

    facie  plausible,  the       applicant  should  be  left  to      the

    ordinary remedy           of applying  for bail      under Section 437 or

    Section 439, Criminal Procedure Code, after he is arrested.

    Shri V. M. Tarkunde, appearing on behalf of some of the

    appellants, while  supporting the  contentions of  the other

    appellants, said  that since  the denial  of bail amounts to

    deprivation of   personal liberty,  court should lean against

    the imposition   of unnecessary restrictions on the scope of

    Section 438,  when no  such restrictions  are imposed by the

    legislature in      the  terms  of    that  Section.    The  learned

    counsel added  a new  dimension to  the argument by invoking

    Article 21 of the Constitution. He urged that Section 438 is

    a procedural  provision which is concerned with the personal

    liberty of  an individual  who has not been convicted of the

    offence in  respect of     which he  seeks bail  and  who  must

    therefore be  presumed to  be innocent. The validity of that

    section must accordingly be examined by the test of fairness

    and reasonableness  which is  implicit in Article 21. If the

    legislature  itself   were   to           impose   an     unreasonable

    restriction on    the  grant  of    anticipatory  bail,  such  a

    restriction could  have been  struck down as being violative

    of Article  21. Therefore,  while determining  the scope  of

    Section 438,  the court  should not  impose  any  unfair  or

    unreasonable limitation  on the individual's right to obtain

    an order  of anticipatory  bail. Imposition  of an unfair or

    unreasonable limitation,  according to    the learned counsel,

    would be violative of Article 21, irrespective of whether it

    is imposed by legislation or by judicial decision.

    The Full  Bench of         the Punjab  and Haryana  High Court

    rejected  the     appellants'  applications   for      bail  after

    summarising,  what   according to  it     is  the   true  legal

    position, thus:

    (1)  The  power   under  Section   438,   Criminal

    Procedure  Code,           is  of  an  extra-ordinary

    character and  must be exercised sparingly in

    exceptional cases only;

    (2)  Neither Section       438 nor any other provision

    of the  Code authorises the grant of blanket

    anticipatory  bail   for    offences   not   yet

    committed or  with regard  to accusations not

    so far levelled.

    (3)  The said power is not unguided or uncanalised

    but  all    the  limitations  imposed  in      the

    preceding Section

    400

    437, are            implicit therein  and must  be read

    into Section 438.

    (4)  In addition  to the  limitations mentioned in

    Section 437,  the petitioner  must make out a

    special case for the exercise of the power to

    grant anticipatory bail.

    (5)  Where a legitimate case for the remand of the

    offender to  the police custody under Section

    167 (2)  can be made out by the investigating

    agency  or   a  reasonable  claim  to  secure

    incriminating   material     from   information

    likely to be received from the offender under

    Section 27  of the  Evidence Act            can be made

    out, the            power under  Section 438 should not

    be exercised.

    (6)  The discretion  under Section  438 cannot  be

    exercised with  regard to offences punishable

    with death  or imprisonment  for life  unless

    the court  at that  very stage  is  satisfied

    that such  a charge  appears to  be false  or

    (7)  The larger  interest of          the public and State

    demand that  in serious cases like  economic

    offences involving  blatant corruption at the

    higher rungs  of the  executive and political

    power, the  discretion under  Section 438  of

    the Code should not be exercised; and

    (8)  Mere general  allegation of mala fides in the

    petition are  inadequate. The  court must  be

    satisfied on  materials before  it  that       the

    allegations of mala fides are substantial and

    the  accusation  appears  to  be  false    and

    It was   urged before the Full Bench that the appellants were

    men of  substance and  position who  were hardly  likely  to

    abscond and  would be prepared willingly to face trial. This

    argument was  rejected with  the observation  that to accord

    differential treatment to the appellants on account of their

    status will  amount to     negation of  the concept of equality

    before the  law and  that it  could hardly be contended that

    every man  of status,  who was intended to  be charged with

    serious crimes,  including the    one under  Section 409 which

    was punishable with life  imprisonment,  "was     entitled  to

    knock at  the door  of the court for anticipatory bail". The

    possession of  high status,  according to the Full Bench, is

    not  only   an    irrelevant   consideration   for   granting

    anticipatory  bail  but    is,  if  anything,  an      aggravating

    We find  ourselves unable to accept, in their totality,

    the submissions of the learned Additional Solicitor General

    or the constraints which the

    401

    Full Bench  of the  High Court   has engrafted  on the  power

    conferred by  Section 438.  Clause (1)   of  Section  438  is

    couched in  terms, broad and unqualified. By any known canon

    of construction,  words of  width and  amplitude  ought not

    generally to  be cut down so as to read into the language of

    the statute  restraints and conditions which the legislature

    itself did  not think it proper or necessary to impose. This

    is especially true when the statutory provisions which falls

    for consideration  is designed    to secure  a valuable  right

    like  the   right  to  personal       freedom  and  involves the

    application of a presumption as salutary and deep-grained in

    our Criminal  Jurisprudence as the presumption of innocence.

    Though            the   right  to    apply   for  anticipatory  bail     was

    conferred for  the first time by Section 438, while enacting

    that provision   the legislature    was not  writing on a clean

    slate in  the sense  of taking       an unprecedented step, in so

    far as    the right  to apply  for bail  is concerned.  It had

    before it  two cognate   provisions of  the Code: Section 437

    which deals with the power of courts other than the Court of

    Session and  the High  Court to grant bail  in non-bailable

    cases and  Section 439 which deals with the "special powers"

    of the   High Court  and the Court of Session regarding bail.

    The whole  of Section  437  is    riddled  and  hedged  in  by

    restrictions on   the power  of certain courts to grant bail.

    That section reads thus :

    "437. When  bail may    be taken  in  case  of     non-

    bailable offence.            (1) When  any person  accused of  or

    suspected of the commission of any non-bailable offence

    is arrested  or detained  without warrant by an officer

    in charge          of a police station or appears or is brought

    before a  Court other  than the  High Court or Court of

    Session, he  may be  released on bail, but he shall not

    be so  released if           there appear reasonable grounds for

    believing           that  he  has  been  guilty  of     an  offence

    punishable with death or imprisonment for life :

    Provided that the Court may direct that any person

    under the age of sixteen years or any woman or any sick

    or infirm person accused of such an offence be released

    on bail :

    Provided  further  that  the        mere  fact  that  an

    accused person  may be required for being identified by

    witnesses during  investigation shall not be sufficient

    ground for       refusing to  grant bail  if he is otherwise

    entitled  to   be  released   on  bail   and  gives  an

    undertaking that  he shall          comply with such directions

    as may be given by the Court.

    (2) If  it appears to such officer or Court at any

    stage of  the investigation,  inquiry or  trial as     the

    case may be,

    402

    that there          are not  reasonable grounds  for  believing

    that the  accused has committed a non-bailable offence,

    but that  there  are  sufficient  grounds  for  further

    inquiry into his guilt, the accused shall, pending such

    inquiry, be  released on bail, or, at the discretion of

    such officer  or Court,  on the  execution by  him of a

    bond without sureties for his appearance as hereinafter

    (3) When  a person  accused or  suspected  of   the

    commission of  an offence         punishable with imprisonment

    which may        extend to  seven years  or  more  or  of  an

    offence under  Chapter VI,        Chapter XVI or Chapter XVII

    of the  Indian Penal Code or abetment of, or conspiracy

    or attempt         to commit, any such offence, is released on

    bail under         sub-section (1),  the Court  may impose any

    condition which the Court considers necessary-

    (a) in  order to  ensure that       such  person  shall

    attend in           accordance with           the conditions  of the bond

    executed under this Chapter, or

    (b) in  order to ensure that such person shall not

    commit an offence similar to the offence of which he is

    accused or        of the commission of which he is suspected,

    or

    (c) otherwise in the interests of justice.

    (4) An  officer or a Court releasing any person on

    bail under         sub-section (1)  or sub-section  (2), shall

    record in writing his or its reasons for so doing.

    (5) Any  Court which has released a person on bail

    under sub-section         (1) or   sub-section (2),  may, if it

    considers it  necessary so          to  do,  direct  that       such

    person be arrested and commit him to custody.

    (6) If,  in any  case triable by a Magistrate, the

    trial of  a person            accused of any non-bailable offence

    is not concluded within a period of sixty days from the

    first date           fixed for taking evidence in the case, such

    person shall,  if he  is in custody during the whole of

    the  said            period,  be   released    on   bail  to      the

    satisfaction of  the Magistrate,  unless for reasons to

    be        recorded   in    writing,  the  Magistrate  otherwise

    (7) If,  at any  time after  the conclusion of the

    trial of  a person            accused of  an non-bailable offence

    and before        judgment is  delivered,  the  Court  is  of

    opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing

    that the accused is not

    403

    guilty of            any  such  offence,  it    shall     release  the

    accused, if  he is            in custody, on the execution by him

    of a  bond without        sureties for his appearance to hear

    judgment delivered."

    Section  439   (1)           (a)   incorporates  the  conditions

    mentioned in  Section 437  (3) if  the offence in respect of

    which the  bail is sought is of the nature specified in that

    sub-section. Section 439 reads thus :

    "439. Special     powers of  High Court or Court  of

    Session regarding         bail. (1)  A High  Court or Court of

    Session may direct-

    (a) That  any person     accused of an offence and in

    custody be       released on  bail, and if the offence is of

    the nature specified in sub-section (3) of section 437,

    may impose      any condition  which it considers necessary

    for the purposes mentioned in that sub-section;

    (b) that  any condition  imposed by  a  Magistrate

    when releasing  any person       on bail  be  set  aside  or

    modified :

    Provided that    the High  Court  or  the  Court  of

    Session shall,  before granting bail to a person who is

    accused of        an offence  which is triable exclusively by

    the Court          of Session  or which, though not so triable,

    is punishable  with imprisonment  for life, give notice

    of the  application for  bail to  the Public Prosecutor

    unless it is, for reasons to be recorded in writing, of

    opinion that it is not practicable to give notice.

    (2) A    High Court  or Court  of Session may direct

    that any  person who  has been  released on  bail under

    this Chapter be arrested and commit him to custody."

    The provisions  of Section         437  and  439   furnished  a

    convenient model  for the legislature to copy while enacting

    Section 438.  If it  has not done so and has departed from a

    pattern which  could easily  be adopted with the  necessary

    modifications, it  would be  wrong to  refuse to give to the

    departure its  full effect  by        assuming  that   it  was   not

    intended to  serve any  particular or  specific purpose. The

    departure,  in    our  opinion,   was  made   advisedly  and

    purposefully :   Advisedly, at  least in part, because of the

    41st Report  of the Law Commission which, while pointing out

    the  necessity    of  introducing  a  provision  in  the      Code

    enabling the  High Court  and the  Court of Session to grant

    anticipatory bail,  said  in  paragraph     29.9  that  it      had

    "considered" carefully   the question  of laying   down in the

    statute certain   conditions under  which alone  anticipatory

    bail could  be granted"  but had come to the conclusion that

    the question  of granting  such bail  should be left "to the

    discretion of the court" and ought not to

    404

    be fettered  by the  statutory provision  itself, since        the

    discretion was   being conferred            upon superior  courts which

    were expected  to exercise  it judicially.  The      legislature

    conferred a  wide discretion on the High Court and the Court

    of Session  to grant  anticipatory bail because it evidently

    felt, firstly,         that it    would be difficult to enumerate the

    conditions under  which anticipatory  bail should  or should

    not be  granted and  secondly, because            the intention was to

    allow the  higher courts in the echelon a somewhat free hand

    in the    grant of  relief in the nature of anticipatory bail.

    That is  why, departing            from the  terms of Sections 437 and

    439, Section 438(1) uses the language that the High Court or

    the Court of Session "may, if it thinks fit" direct that the

    applicant be  released on  bail. Sub-section  (2) of Section

    438 is    a further  and clearer    manifestation  of  the     same

    legislative intent  to confer  a wide discretionary power to

    grant anticipatory  bail. It provides that the High Court or

    the Court  of Session,    while issuing  a direction  for     the

    grant of  anticipatory bail, "may include such conditions in

    such directions  in the light of the facts of the particular

    case, as  it may  think fit", including the conditions which

    are set  out in  clauses (i) to (iv) of sub-section (2). The

    proof of  legislative  intent  can  best  be  found  in         the

    language  which             the  legislature   uses.  Ambiguities       can

    undoubtedly be            resolved by  resort to    extraneous aids but

    words, as  wide and  explicit as  have been  used in Section

    438, must  be given  their full     effect, especially  when to

    refuse to  do so  will result  in undue      impairement of the

    freedom of  the individual and the presumption of innocence.

    It has    to be borne in mind that anticipatory bail is sought

    when  there   is  a  mere  apprehension  of  arrest  on    the

    accusation that  the applicant    has committed a non-bailable

    offence. A  person who has yet to lose his freedom by being

    arrested asks  for freedom  in the  event of arrest. That is

    the stage  at which it is imperative to protect his freedom,

    in so  far as  one  may,  and  to  give     full  play  to     the

    presumption that he is innocent. In fact, the stage at which

    anticipatory bail  is  generally  sought  brings  about      its

    striking dissimilarity       with the situation in which a person

    who is arrested for the commission of a non-bailable offence

    asks for  bail. In  the latter         situation, adequate  data is

    available to  the Court,  or can be called for by it, in the

    light of  which it  can grant  or refuse  relief  and  while

    granting it,  modify it     by the imposition of all or any of

    the conditions mentioned in Section 437.

    This is  not to say that anticipatory bail, if granted,

    must be            granted without  the imposition  of any conditions.

    That will  be plainly  contrary to the very terms of Section

    438. Though  sub-section (1)  of that  section says that the

    Court "may,  if it thinks fit" issue the necessary direction

    for bail, sub-section (2) confers on the Court the

    405

    power to  include such conditions in the direction as it may

    think fit  in the light of the facts of the particular case,

    including the conditions mentioned in clauses (i) to (iv) of

    that sub-section.  The controversy  therefore is not whether

    the Court  has the power to impose conditions while granting

    anticipatory bail.  It clearly and expressly has that power.

    The true  question is  whether by a process of construction,

    the amplitude  of judicial  discretion which is given to the

    High  Court  and  the  Court  of  Session,  to     impose  such

    conditions as they may think fit while granting anticipatory

    bail, should  be  cut  down  by  reading  into    the  statute

    condition which            are not  to be   found therein,  like  those

    evolved by  the High  Court  or            canvassed  by  the  learned

    Additional  Solicitor       General.  Our  answer,  clearly  and

    emphatically, is  in the  negative. The     High Court  and the

    Court of  Session to  whom the application for anticipatory

    bail is    made ought to be left free in the exercise of their

    judicial discretion to grant bail if they consider it fit so

    to do  on the particular facts and circumstances of the case

    and on such conditions as the case may warrant. Similarly,

    they must  be left  free to refuse bail if the circumstances

    of the   case so warrant, on considerations similar to those

    mentioned in  Section 437  or which are generally considered

    to be relevant under Section 439 of the Code.

    Generalisations on matters which rest on discretion and

    the attempt  to discover  formulae of  universal application

    when facts  are bound  to differ from case to case frustrate

    the very  purpose of conferring discretion. No two cases are

    alike on  facts and  therefore, Courts     have to be allowed a

    little      free  play  in     the  joints  if      the  conferment  of

    discretionary power  is to  be meaningful.  There is no risk

    involved in  entrusting a  wide discretion  to the  Court of

    Session and  the High  Court in granting anticipatory    bail

    because,  firstly,   these  are         higher  courts  manned  by

    experienced persons,  secondly, their  orders are  not final

    but are open to  appellate or revisional scrutiny and above

    all because, discretion has always to be exercised by courts

    judicially and    not according  to whim, caprice or fancy. On

    the other hand, there is a risk in foreclosing categories of

    cases in which anticipatory bail may be allowed because life

    throws  up   unforeseen              possibilities        and    offers    new

    challenges. Judicial  discretion has to be free enough to be

    able to  take these  possibilities in its stride and to meet

    these challenges.  While  dealing  with    the  necessity   for

    preserving  judicial   discretion  unhampered  by  rules  of

    general application,  Earl Loreburn  L. C. said in Hyman and

    Anr. v. Rose :

    "I desire  in the first instance to point out that

    the  discretion   given  by   the  section   is        very

    wide........... Now it

    406

    seems to  me that when the Act is so express to provide

    a wide  discretion,...it is  not advisable    to lay down

    any rigid           rules for  guiding that discretion. I do not

    doubt that        the rules  enunciated by  the Master of the

    Rolls in the present case are useful maxims in general,

    and that in general they reflect the point of view from

    which judges  would regard      an application  for relief.

    But I  think it  ought to be distinctly understood that

    there may         be cases  in which any or all of them may be

    disregarded. If  it were otherwise, the free discretion

    given by  the statute  would be fettered by limitations

    which have       nowhere been  enacted. It  is one  thing to

    decide  what  is  the  true  meaning  of  the  language

    contained in  an Act  of  Parliament.  It  is  quite  a

    different            thing    to  place  conditions  upon  a    free

    discretion entrusted  by statute to the Court where the

    conditions are  not based          upon statutory  enactment at

    all. It  is not  safe, I  think, to  say that the Court

    must and  will always  insist upon           certain things when

    the Act  does not          require them,  and the facts of some

    unforeseen case  may make       the Court wish it had kept a

    free hand."

    Judges have  to decide  cases as they come before them,

    mindful of  the need  to keep passions and prejudices out of

    their decisions.  And it  will be  strange if,           by employing

    judicial  artifices   and  techniques,         we  cut   down            the

    discretion so  wisely conferred upon the Courts, by devising

    a formula which will confine the power to grant anticipatory

    bail within  a strait-jacket.  While laying  down  cast-iron

    rules in  a matter  like granting  anticipatory bail, as the

    High Court  has done,  it is  apt to be overlooked that even

    Judges can  have but  an imperfect awareness of the needs of

    new situations. Life is never static and every situation has

    to be  assessed in  the context    of emerging concerns as and

    when it arises. Therefore, even if we were to frame a 'Code

    for the  grant of  anticipatory bail',        which really  is the

    business of  the legislature,  it can  at best furnish broad

    guide-lines and cannot compel blind adherence. In which case

    to grant  bail and  in which  to refuse     it is,     in the very

    nature of things, a matter of discretion. But apart from the

    fact that  the question    is inherently of a kind which calls

    for the use of discretion from case to case, the legislature

    has, in  terms   express,  relegated  the  decision  of       that

    question to  the discretion  of the court, by providing that

    it may   grant bail  "if it  thinks fit".  The concern of the

    courts generally  is to    preserve their  discretion  without

    meaning to  abuse it.  It will       be  strange  if    we  exhibit

    concern to stultify the discretion conferred upon the Courts

    by law.

    407

    A close  look at  some of           the rules in the eight-point

    code formulated            by he High Court will show how difficult it

    is to apply them in practice. The seventh proposition says :

    "The larger  interest       of  the  public  and  State

    demand that  in serious  cases like  economic  offences

    involving blatant corruption at the higher rungs of the

    executive and  political power,  the  discretion  under

    Section 438 of the Code should not be exercised."

    How can  the Court,  even if it had a third eye, assess

    the blatantness  of corruption   at the stage of anticipatory

    bail ? And will it be correct to say that blatantness of the

    accusation will   suffice for  rejecting bail,  even  if         the

    applicant's conduct  is painted   in colours  too lurid to be

    true ?   The eighth proposition rule framed by the High Court

    says :

    "Mere general   allegations of    mala fides  in    the

    petition are inadequate. The court must be satisfied on

    materials before  it that  the allegations of mala fide

    are substantial  and the accusation appears to be false

    and groundless."

    Does this           rule mean,  and that  is the argument of the

    learned Additional  Solicitor-General, that the anticipatory

    bail cannot  be granted unless it is alleged (and naturally,

    also shown,  because mere  allegation is  never enough) that

    the  proposed   accusations  are   mala     fide     ?   It      is

    understandable that  if mala  fides are     shown anticipatory

    bail should be granted in the generality of cases. But it is

    not easy  to appreciate  why an application for anticipatory

    bail must  be rejected    unless the accusation is shown to be

    mala fide.  This, truly,  is the  risk involved         in  framing

    rules by judicial construction. Discretion, therefore, ought

    to be permitted to remain in the domain of discretion, to be

    exercised objectively  and open to correction by the higher

    courts. The  safety of discretionary power lies in this twin

    protection which provides a safeguard against its abuse.

    According to  the sixth  proposition framed by the High

    Court, the  discretion under Section 438 cannot be exercised

    in regard  to offences punishable with death or imprisonment

    for  life  unless,  the       court   at  the   stage   of  granting

    anticipatory bail,  is satisfied  that such a charge appears

    to be  false or    groundless. Now, Section 438 confers on the

    High Court  and the  Court of  Session the  power  to  grant

    anticipatory bail  if the  applicant has  reason to  believe

    that he may be arrested on an accusation of having committed

    "a non-bailable offence". We see no warrant for reading into

    this provision the conditions subject to

    408

    which bail  can be granted under Section 437(1) of the Code.

    That section,  while conferring   the power  to grant bail in

    cases of  non-bailable    offences,  provides  by  way  of  an

    exception  that    a  person  accused  or  suspected  of   the

    commission of  a  non-bailable   offence "shall   not  be  so

    released" if  there appear  to      be  reasonable  grounds           for

    believing that    he has  been guilty of an offence punishable

    with death or imprisonment for life. If it was intended that

    the exception  contained in Section 437(1) should govern the

    grant of  relief under     Section 438(1),  nothing would have

    been easier  for the  legislature than to introduce into the

    latter section     a similar provision. We have already pointed

    out  the  basic   distinction  between  these  two  sections.

    Section 437  applies only  after a person, who is alleged to

    have  committed           a  non-bailable  offence,  is       arrested  or

    detained without  warrant or  appears or is brought before a

    court. Section 438 applies before the arrest is made and, in

    fact, one  of the  pre-conditions of its application is that

    the person, who applies for relief under it, must be able to

    show  that  he   has  reason  to  believe  that     "he  may  be

    arrested", which  plainly means that he is not yet arrested.

    The nexus  which this  distinction bears  with the  grant or

    refusal of  bail is that in cases falling under Section 437,

    there is  some concrete  data on  the basis  of which  it is

    possible to  show that there appear to be reasonable grounds

    for believing  that the    applicant has    been  guilty  of  an

    offence punishable  with death  or imprisonment for life. In

    cases falling  under Section  438 that      stage  is  still  to

    arrive and,  in the generality of cases thereunder, it would

    be premature  and indeed  difficult to     predicate that there

    are or   are not reasonable grounds  for so  believing.  The

    foundation of  the belief  spoken of  in Section  437(1), by

    reason of  which the  court cannot  release the applicant on

    bail  is,  normally,  the  credibility           of  the  allegations

    contained in  the First    Information Report. In the majority

    of cases  falling under    Section  438,    that  data  will  be

    lacking for  forming the  requisite belief.  If at  all            the

    conditions mentioned  in Section 437 are to be read into the

    provisions of Section 438, the transplantation shall have to

    be done without amputation. That is to say, on the reasoning

    of the   High Court,  Section 438(1) shall have to be read as

    containing the   clause that  the applicant  "shall  not"  be

    released on  bail "if  there appear  reasonable grounds   for

    believing that    he has  been guilty of an offence punishable

    with death  or imprisonment  for life".    In this process one

    shall have  overlooked that whereas, the power under Section

    438(1) can  be exercised  if the  High Court or the Court of

    Session "thinks  fits to  do so,  Section  437(1)  does      not

    confer the  power to  grant bail in the same wide terms. The

    expression "if    it thinks  fit",  which      occurs in  Section

    438(1) in  relation to      the power  of the  High Court or the

    Court of Session, is conspicuously absent in Section 437(1).

    We see no valid reason for re-writing Section 438 with a

    409

    view, not to expanding the scope and ambit of the discretion

    conferred on  the High  Court and  the Court of Session but,

    for the  purpose of  limiting it. Accordingly, we are unable

    to endorse  the view  of the High Court that ancipatory bail

    cannot be  granted in  respect   of  offences  like  criminal

    breach of  trust for  the mere     reason that  the  punishment

    provided therefor  is imprisonment  for life.  Circumstances

    may broadly  justify the  grant of  bail in  such cases too,

    though of  course, the  Court is free to refuse anticipatory

    bail in   any case  if there is material before it justifying

    such refusal.

    A great  deal has           been said  by the  High Court on the

    fifth proposition  framed by  it, according  to which, inter

    alia, the power under Section 438 should not be exercised if

    the investigating agency can make a reasonable claim that it

    can secure incriminating material from information likely to

    be received  from the  offender under  Section 27  of   the

    Evidence Act.  According to  the High Court, it is the right

    and the duty of  the police  to investigate  into  offences

    brought to  their notice  and therefore,  courts  should  be

    careful not  to exercise  their powers      in a manner which is

    calculated to  cause interference therewith. It is true that

    the functions of the Judiciary and the police are in a sense

    complementary and  not overlapping.  And, as observed by the

    Privy Council in King Emperor v. Khwaja Nasir Ahmed :

    "Just as it is essential that every one accused of

    a crime  should have  free access to a court of justice

    so that he may be duly acquitted if found not guilty of

    the offence  with which  he is charged, so it is of the

    utmost  importance         that    the   judiciary   should not

    interfere with  the police            in matters which are within

    their province  and into  which the law imposes on them

    the duty of inquiry. The functions of the Judiciary and

    the Police          are complementary, not overlapping, and the

    combination  of  the  individual  liberty  with  a  due

    observance of  law and  order is only to be obtained by

    leaving each to exercise its own function...."

    But, these         remarks, may it be remembered, were made by

    the Privy  Council while  rejecting the    view of  the Lahore

    High Court  that it  had inherent jurisdiction under the old

    Section 561A,   Criminal  Procedure   Code,  to  quash all

    proceedings taken  by the  police in  pursuance of two First

    Information Reports  made to  them. An            order quashing such

    proceedings puts an end to the proceedings with the

    410

    inevitable result that all investigation into the accusation

    comes to  a halt.  Therefore, it  was held  that  the  Court

    cannot, in  the exercise  of its  inherent powers, virtually

    direct that  the  police  shall       not  investigate  into     the

    charges contained in the F.I.R. We are concerned here with a

    situation of  an altogether  different        kind.  An  order  of

    anticipatory  bail   does  not      in  any  way,   directly  or

    indirectly,  take  away   from  the  police  their  right  to

    investigate into  charges made   or to  be made  against  the

    person  released   on  bail.  In  fact,       two  of  the  usual

    conditions incorporated            in a direction issued under Section

    438 (1)  are those  recommended in  Sub-section (2)  (i) and

    (ii) which  require the    applicant to  co-operate  with   the

    police and  to assure  that he     shall not  tamper  with   the

    witnesses during and after the investigation. While granting

    relief under  Section 438 (1), appropriate conditions can be

    imposed            under  Section  438     (2)  so    as  to  ensure  an

    uninterrupted investigation. One of such conditions can even

    be that  in the   event of  the police making out a case of a

    likely discovery  under Section  27 of the Evidence Act, the

    person released on bail  shall be  liable to  be  taken  in

    police custody  for facilitating  the discovery. Besides, if

    and when  the occasion            arises, it  may be  possible for the

    prosecution to  claim the  benefit  of      Section 27  of   the

    Evidence Act  in regard to a  discovery of  facts  made  in

    pursuance of  information supplied  by a  person released on

    bail by invoking the principle stated by this Court in State

    of U.P. v. Deoman Upadhyaya to the effect that when a person

    not in   custody approaches a police officer investigating an

    offence and  offers  to   give  information  leading  to    the

    discovery of  a fact,  having a   bearing on the charge which

    may be made against  him, he may appropriately be deemed to

    have surrendered himself to the police. The broad foundation

    of this   rule is stated to be that Section 46 of the Code of

    Criminal Procedure does not contemplate any formality before

    a person  can be  said to be taken in custody: submission to

    the custody by word or action by a person is sufficient. For

    similar reasons,  we are  unable to  agree that anticipatory

    bail should  be refused  if a legitimate case for the remand

    of the   offender to the police custody under Section 167 (2)

    of the Code is made out by the investigating agency.

    It is  unnecessary to consider the third proposition of

    the High  Court in any great details because we have already

    indicated that    there is  no justification  for reading into

    Section 438  the limitations  mentioned in  Section 437. The

    High Court  says  that   such  limitations  are      implicit  in

    Section 438 but, with respect, no such implications arise or

    can be

    411

    read into  that section.  The plenitudes of the section must

    be given its full play.

    The High  Court says  in its fourth proposition that in

    addition to  the limitations  mentioned in  Section 437, the

    petitioner must  make out  a "special case" for the exercise

    of the   power to  grant anticipatory  bail. This, virtually,

    reduces the  salutary power  conferred by  Section 438  to a

    dead letter.  In its  anxiety, otherwise  just, to show that

    the power  conferred by           Section 438  is  not  "unguided  or

    uncanalised", the  High Court  has subjected that power to a

    restraint which  will have  the effect      of making  the power

    utterly unguided.  To say that the applicant must make out a

    "special case"    for the  exercise  of  the  power  to  grant

    anticipatory bail  is really  to say  nothing. The applicant

    has undoubtedly           to  make  out   a  case  for  the  grant  of

    anticipatory bail. But one cannot go further and say that he

    must make  out a  "special case".  We do  not  see  why the

    provisions of  Section 438 should be suspected as containing

    something volatile  or incendiary, which needs to be handled

    with the  greatest  care  and  caution     imaginable.  A   wise

    exercise of judicial power inevitably takes care of the evil

    consequences which are likely to flow out of its intemperate

    use. Every  kind of judicial discretion, whatever may be the

    nature of the matter in regard to which it is required to be

    exercised, has   to be  used with  due care  and caution.  In

    fact, an awareness of the context in which the discretion is

    required to  be exercised  and of the reasonably foreseeable

    consequences of           its use,  is the  hall mark  of  a  prudent

    exercise of  judicial discretion.  One ought  not to  make a

    bugbear of the power to grant anticipatory bail.

    By proposition No. 1 the High Court says that the power

    conferred by  Section 438  is "of an extraordinary character

    and must  be exercised sparingly in exceptional cases only".

    It may  perhaps be  right to  describe the  power as  of  an

    extraordinary  character  because  ordinarily  the  bail  is

    applied for under Section 437 or Section 439. These Sections

    deal with  the power to grant or refuse bail to a person who

    is in  the custody  of the  police and       that is the ordinary

    situation in  which bail  is generally applied for. But this

    does not  justify the  conclusion that      the  power  must  be

    exercised in  exceptional cases   only, because  it is  of an

    extra-ordinary character.  We will really be saying once too

    often that  all discretion has to be exercised with care and

    circumspection depending  on  circumstances  justifying            its

    exercise. It  is unnecessary to travel beyond it and subject

    the wide  power conferred  by the  legislature to a rigorous

    code of self-imposed limitations.

    412

    It remains         only to  consider  the   second            proposition

    formulated by  the High            Court, which  is the  only one with

    which we are disposed to agree but we will say more about it

    a little later.

    It will  be appropriate  at this  stage to    refer to  a

    decision of  this Court   in Balchand Jain v. State of Madhya

    Pradesh on  which the  High  Court  has            leaned heavily  in

    formulating its   propositions. One  of us,  Bhagwati J.   who

    spoke for  himself and A. C. Gupta, J. observed in that case

    that:

    "the power  of  granting  'anticipatory  bail'  is

    somewhat extraordinary  in character  and it is only in

    exceptional cases           where it appears that a person might

    be falsely          implicated, or   a frivolous  case might  be

    launched against  him, or "there are reasonable grounds

    for holding  that a person accused of an offence is not

    likely to            abscond, or  otherwise  misuse  his  liberty

    while on bail" that such power is to be exercised."

    Fazal Ali,           J. who delivered a  separate    judgment  of

    concurrence also observed that:

    "an       order    for   anticipatory   bail   is           an

    extraordinary remedy available in special cases".

    and proceeded to say:

    "As Section  438 immediately      follows s. 437 which

    is the  main provision  for bail  in  respect  of      non-

    bailable offences,           it is      manifest that the conditions

    imposed by       s. 437   (1) are  implicitly contained in s.

    438 of  the Code.          Otherwise the result would be that a

    person who      is accused  of murder can get away under s.

    438 by obtaining an order for anticipatory bail without

    the necessity  of proving           that there  were  reasonable

    grounds for believing that he was not guilty of offence

    punishable with  death or imprisonment for life. Such a

    course would  render the  provisions of s. 437 nugatory

    and will  give a  free licence  to the  accused persons

    charged with  non-bailable offences to get easy bail by

    approaching the  Court under  s. 438  and by-passing s.

    437 of  the Code.          This, we feel, could never have been

    the intention  of the Legislature. Section 438 does not

    contain unguided or uncanalised powers to pass an order

    for anticipatory  bail, but  such an  order being of an

    exceptional type can only be passed if,

    413

    apart from the conditions mentioned in s. 437, there is

    a special            case made  out for  passing the  order.  The

    words "for        a direction  under this section" and "Court

    may, if  it thinks            fit, direct"  clearly show that the

    Court  has          to  be   guided  by      a  large  number  of

    considerations including  those mentioned         in s. 437 of

    the Code."

    While stating  his conclusions     Fazal Ali,  J. reiterated in

    conclusion  no.3  that    "Section  438  of  the     Code  is  an

    extraordinary remedy  and should  be  resorted to  only  in

    special cases."

    We hold  the decision in Balchand Jain (supra) in great

    respect but it is necessary to remember that the question as

    regards the  interpretation of     Section 438  did not  at all

    arise in  that case. Fazal Ali, J. has stated in paragraph 3

    of his    judgment that  "the  only  point"  which  arose  for

    consideration before the Court was whether the provisions of

    Section 438  relating to  anticipatory bail  stand overruled

    and repealed  by virtue of Rule  184  of  the      Defence            and

    Internal Security  of India  Rules, 1971 or whether both the

    provisions can, by the rule of  harmonious interpretation,

    exist side  by side.  Bhagwati, J.  has also  stated in         his

    judgment, after adverting to  Section 438  that Rule 184 is

    what the  Court            was  concerned           with  in  the     appeal. The

    observations made  in Balchand Jain (supra)  regarding  the

    nature of  the power  conferred by Section 438 and regarding

    the question whether the conditions mentioned in Section 437

    should be  read into Section 438 cannot therefore be treated

    as concluding  the  points  which  arise  directly  for       our

    consideration.   We  agree,  with  respect,  that  the  power

    conferred by Section 438 is of an extraordinary character in

    the sense indicated above, namely, that it is not ordinarily

    resorted to  like the  power conferred    by Sections  437 and

    439. We also agree that the power to grant anticipatory bail

    should be  exercised with  due care  and circumspection            but

    beyond            that,     it  is      not  possible    to  agree  with  the

    observations made  in Balchand Jain (supra) in an altogether

    different context on an altogether different point.

    We find  a great  deal of            substance in  Mr. Tarkunde's

    submission that since denial of bail amounts to deprivation

    of personal  liberty, the  Court  should  lean       against  the

    imposition of  unnecessary  restrictions  on  the  scope  of

    Section 438,  especially when no such restrictions have been

    imposed by  the legislature  in the  terms of  that section.

    Section 438  is a  procedural provision   which is  concerned

    with the personal liberty of the individual, who is entitled

    to the   benefit of  the presumption of innocence since he is

    not, on the date  of his application for anticipatory bail,

    convicted of  the offence in respect of which he seeks bail.

    An overgenerous infusion of constraints and conditions which

    are not to be   found in Section 438 can make its provisions

    constitutionally vulnerable  since  the     right    to  personal

    freedom cannot be made to depend on com-

    414

    pliance  with  unreasonable  restrictions.  The    beneficient

    provision contained  in  Section  438  must  be  saved, not

    jettisoned. No doubt can linger after the decision in Maneka

    Gandhi that  in order to meet the challenge of Article 21 of

    the Constitution,  the     procedure  established  by  law for

    depriving a  person of   his liberty  must be  fair, just and

    reasonable.  Section  438,  in     the  form  in  which  it  is

    conceived by the legislature, is open to no exception on the

    ground that  it prescribes  a procedure  which is  unjust or

    unfair. We ought, at all costs, to avoid throwing it open to

    a Constitutional  challenge by reading words in it which are

    not be found therein.

    It is  not necessary  to refer  to decisions which deal

    with the  right to ordinary bail because that right does not

    furnish an exact parallel to the right to anticipatory bail.

    It is,      however, interesting that as long back as in 1924 it

    was held  by the  High Court of Calcutta in Nagendra v. King

    Emperor that  the object of bail is to secure the attendance

    of the   accused at  the trial,      that the  proper test  to be

    applied in  the solution of the question whether bail should

    be granted  or refused  is whether  it is  probable that the

    party  will  appear  to    take  his  trial  and        that  it  is

    indisputable  that   bail  is           not  to  be  withheld  as  a

    punishment. In two other cases which, significantly, are the

    'Meerut Conspiracy  cases'  observations  are  to  be  found

    regarding the right to bail which observe a special mention.

    In K.  N. Joglekar v. Emperor it was observed, while dealing

    with Section  498 which corresponds to            the present Section

    439 of   the Code,  that it conferred upon the Sessions Judge

    or the   High Court  wide powers to grant bail which were not

    handicapped by the restrictions in the preceding Section 497

    which  corresponds  to the  present  Section  437.  It     was

    observed by  the Court that there was no hard and fast rule

    and no inflexible principle  governing the  exercise of the

    discretion conferred  by  Section  498    and  that  the    only

    principle which was established  was  that  the  discretion

    should  be  exercised  judiciously.  In    Emperor  v.  H.  L.

    Hutchinson it  was said  that it  was very unwise to make an

    attempt to lay down any particular rules which will bind the

    High Court,  having regard  to the fact that the legislature

    itself      left   the  discretion        of  the  Court   unfettered.

    According to  the High  Court, the variety of cases that may

    arise from  time to  time cannot be safely classified and it

    is dangerous to make an attempt to classify the cases and to

    say that in particular classes a bail may be granted but not

    in other  classes. It  was observed that the principle to be

    deduced from the various sections in the Criminal Procedure

    415

    Code was  that grant  of bail is the rule and refusal is the

    exception. An accused person who enjoys freedom is in a much

    better position   to look  after his  case  and       to  properly

    defend himself   than if   he were in custody. As a presumably

    innocent person            he is    therefore entitled  to      freedom            and

    every opportunity  to look  after his own case. A presumably

    innocent person            must have  his freedom            to  enable  him  to

    establish his innocence.

    Coming nearer  home, it  was observed  by Krishna Iyer,

    J., in     Gudikanti Narasimhulu  v.  Public  Prosecutor,   High

    Court of  Andhra Pradesh  that "the  issue of bail is one of

    liberty, justice,  public safety  and burden  of the  public

    treasury, all of which insist that a developed jurisprudence

    of bail   is  integral  to  a  socially           sensitized  judicial

    process. After   all,  personal     liberty   of  an  accused  or

    convict is  fundamental, suffering  lawful eclipse  only  in

    terms of  procedure established by law. The last four words

    of Article 21 are the life of that human right."

    In Gurcharan  Singh  v.  State  (Delhi  Admn.)  it           was

    observed by Goswami, J. who spoke for the Court, that "there

    cannot be  an inexorable  formula in  the matter of granting

    bail. The  facts and  circumstances of each case will govern

    the  exercise      of  judicial   discretion  in           granting  or

    cancelling bail."

    In American Jurisprudence (2d, Volume 8, page 806, para

    39) it is stated:

    "Where  the  granting   of  bail  lies       within  the

    discretion of  the court, the granting  or  denial  is

    regulated,         to   a   large    extent,  by  the  facts    and

    circumstances of each particular case. Since the object

    of the  detention or  imprisonment of the accused is to

    secure   his   appearance           and   submission   to    the

    jurisdiction and the judgment of the court, the primary

    inquiry is          whether a recognizance or bond would effect

    that end."

    It is  thus clear that the question whether to grant bail or

    not depends  for its answer upon a variety of circumstances,

    the cumulative  effect of which must enter into the judicial

    verdict. Any one single circumstance cannot be treated as of

    universal validity or as necessarily justifying the grant or

    refusal of bail.

    In         regard   to  anticipatory  bail,  if  the  proposed

    accusation appears  to stem  not from  motives of furthering

    the ends  of justice  but from     some  ulterior    motive, the

    object being to injure and humiliate the applicant by having

    him arrested,  a direction  for the release of the applicant

    on bail  in the event of his arrest would generally be made.

    On the other

    416

    hand, if  it appears  likely, considering the antecedents of

    the  applicant,   that  taking  advantage  of  the  order  of

    anticipatory bail  he will  flee from justice, such an order

    would not be made. But the converse of these propositions is

    not necessarily true. That is to say, it cannot be laid down

    as an  inexorable rule    that  anticipatory  bail  cannot  be

    granted            unless    the  proposed accusation  appears  to  be

    actuated by mala fides; and, equally, that anticipatory bail

    must be            granted if there is no fear that the applicant will

    abscond.  There              are  several     other   considerations,  too

    numerous to  enumerate, the  combined effect  of which            must

    weigh  with   the  court   while   granting   or   rejecting

    anticipatory  bail.   The  nature  and      seriousness  of  the

    proposed charges,  the context of the events likely to lead

    to the   making of  the charges, a reasonable possibility of

    the applicant's   presence not  being secured at the trial, a

    reasonable apprehension that witnesses will be tampered with

    and "the  larger interests  of the  public or the state" are

    some of            the considerations  which the   court has to keep in

    mind while  deciding an application for  anticipatory bail.

    The relevance of these considerations was pointed out in The

    State v.  Captain Jagjit  Singh, which,    though, was  a case

    under the  old Section   498 which corresponds to the present

    Section 439 of the Code. It is of paramount consideration to

    remember that  the freedom of the individual is as necessary

    for the  survival of  the society  as it is for the egoistic

    purposes of  the individual.  A person    seeking anticipatory

    bail is    still a  free man  entitled to        the presumption  of

    innocence. He  is willing  to submit  to restraints  on       his

    freedom, by the acceptance of conditions which the court may

    think fit  to impose, in consideration of the assurance that

    if arrested, he shall be enlarged on bail.

    A word  of caution        may perhaps  be  necessary  in the

    evaluation of  the consideration  whether the  applicant  is

    likely to  abscond. There  can be  no presumption  that  the

    wealthy and  the mighty            will submit themselves to trial and

    that the  humble and  the poor will run away from the course

    of justice,  any more  than there  can be a presumption that

    the former  are not  likely to commit a crime and the latter

    are more  likely to  commit it.     In his   charge to the grand

    jury at  Salisbury Assizes,  1899 (to which Krishna Iyer, J.

    has referred in Gudikanti), Lord Russel of Killowen said:

    " .............  it was the duty of magistrates to

    admit accused  persons to         bail, wherever   practicable,

    unless there  were strong          grounds for  supposing that

    such persons  would not  appear to take their trial. It

    was not  the poorer  classes who  did not          appear, for

    their circumstances  were such  as to  tie them  to the

    place where  they carried          on their  work. They had not

    the golden wings with which to fly from justice."

    417

    This, incidentally,  will serve to show how no hard and fast

    rules can  be laid  down in  discretionary matters  like the

    grant or refusal of bail, whether anticipatory or otherwise.

    No such            rules can be laid down for the simple reason that a

    circumstance which,  in a  given  case,  turns    out  to  be

    conclusive, may            have no more than ordinary signification in

    another case.

    We would, therefore, prefer to leave the High Court and

    the Court  of Session  to exercise  their jurisdiction under

    Section 438  by a  wise and  careful use of their discretion

    which, by  their long  training   and  experience,  they  are

    ideally suited     to do.   The ends  of justice  will be better

    served by  trusting these  courts to  act objectively and in

    consonance with principles governing the grant of bail which

    are recognised  over the  years, than  by divesting  them of

    their discretion  which the  legislature has  conferred upon

    them,  by   laying  down   inflexible       rules     of   general

    application. It    is customary,   almost chronic, to  take  a

    statute as  one finds it on the grounds that, after all "the

    legislature in      its wisdom"  has thought  it fit  to  use  a

    particular  expression.     A  convention may  usefully   grow

    whereby the  High Court          and the  Court of  Session  may  be

    trusted to  exercise their  discretionary  powers  in  their

    wisdom, especially when the discretion is entrusted to their

    care by the legislature in its wisdom. If they err, they are

    liable to be corrected.

    This should  be the  end  of  the            matter,  but  it  is

    necessary to  clarify a    few points which have given rise to

    certain misgivings.

    Section 438(1)  of the Code lays down a condition which

    has to be satisfied before anticipatory bail can be granted.

    The applicant must show that he has "reason to believe" that

    he may be arrested  for a  non-bailable offence. The use of

    the expression   "reason to  believe" shows  that the  belief

    that the  applicant may  be so   arrested must  be founded on

    reasonable grounds.  Mere 'fear'  is not 'belief', for which

    reason it  is not  enough for  the applicant to show that he

    has some sort of a vague apprehension that some one is going

    to make            an accusation against him, in pursuance of which he

    may be arrested. The  grounds on  which the  belief of  the

    applicant is  based that  he may  be  arrested      for  a    non-

    bailable offence,  must be  capable of being examined by the

    court objectively,  because it     is then alone that the court

    can determine  whether the  applicant has  reason to believe

    that he  may be            so  arrested.     Section 438(1),  therefore,

    cannot  be  invoked  on            the  basis  of    vague  and  general

    allegations, as    if to     arm oneself  in perpetuity against a

    possible arrest.  Otherwise, the  number of applications for

    anticipatory bail  will be  as large  as, at  any rate,           the

    adult populace. Anticipatory bail is a device to secure the

    individual's liberty; it is neither a passport to

    418

    the commission of crimes  nor a  shield against any and all

    kinds of accusations, likely or unlikely.

    Secondly, if  an application  for anticipatory  bail is

    made to the High Court or the Court of Session it must apply

    its own mind to  the question and decide whether a case has

    been made  out for granting such relief. It cannot leave the

    question for  the decision of the Magistrate concerned under

    Section 437  of the  Code, as  and when            an occasion arises.

    Such a course will defeat the very object of Section 438.

    Thirdly, the  filing of  a First  Information Report is

    not a condition precedent to the exercise of the power under

    Section 438.  The imminence  of a likely arrest founded on a

    reasonable belief can be shown to exist even if an F.I.R. is

    not yet filed.

    Fourthly, anticipatory  bail can  be granted even after

    an F.I.R.  is filed,  so long  as the applicant has not been

    Fifthly,  the  provisions  of  Section  438  cannot  be

    invoked after  the arrest  of  the  accused.  The  grant  of

    "anticipatory bail"  to     an  accused  who  is  under  arrest

    involves a  contradiction in terms, in so far as the offence

    or offences  for which   he is arrested, are concerned. After

    arrest, the  accused must  seek his remedy under Section 437

    or Section  439 of  the Code,  if he wants to be released on

    bail in   respect of  the offence or offences for which he is

    We have  said that        there is one proposition formulated

    by the  High Court with which we are inclined to agree. That

    is preposition    No. (2).  We agree that a 'blanket order' of

    anticipatory bail should not generally be passed. This flows

    from the  very language            of the  section which, as discussed

    above, requires the applicant to show that he has "reason to

    believe" that he may be arrested. A belief can be said to be

    founded on  reasonable grounds           only if   there is  something

    tangible to  go by on the basis of which it can be said that

    the applicant's   apprehension that  he may  be arrested  is

    genuine. That is why, normally, a direction should not issue

    under Section  438(1) to the effect that the applicant shall

    be released on bail "whenever arrested for whichever offence

    whatsoever." That  is what  is meant by a 'blanket order' of

    anticipatory bail,  an order  which serves  as a  blanket to

    cover or  protect any  and every  kind of allegedly unlawful

    activity,  in  fact  any  eventuality,         likely    or  unlikely

    regarding which,  no concrete  information can possibly  be

    had. The  rationale of    a direction  under Section 438(1) is

    the belief  of the  applicant founded  on reasonable grounds

    that he  may be            arrested for  a non-bailable offence. It is

    unrealistic  to      expect  the      applicant  to  draw  up  his

    application with the meticulousness of a pleading in a civil

    case and  such  is  not   requirement  of  the  section.    But

    specific events and facts

    419

    must be            disclosed by  the applicant  in order to enable the

    court to  judge of  the reasonableness   of his    belief,   the

    existence of  which is     the sine  qua non of the exercise of

    power conferred by the section.

    Apart from        the fact  that the  very  language  of     the

    statute compels this construction,  there is  an  important

    principle involved  in the  insistence that  facts,  on         the

    basis of  which a direction under Section 438 (1) is sought,

    must be            clear and  specific, not  vague and  general. It is

    only by            the observance            of that  principle that  a possible

    conflict between  the right  of an individual to his liberty

    and the right of  the police  to  investigate         into  crimes

    reported to them can be avoided.

    A blanket          order of anticipatory bail is bound to cause

    serious interference with both the right and the duty of the

    police in the matter of investigation because, regardless of

    what kind  of offence  is alleged  to have been committed by

    the applicant  and when,  an order of bail which comprehends

    allegedly unlawful  activity of     any description whatsoever,

    will prevent the police from arresting the applicant even if

    he commits,  say, a  murder in   the presence  of the public.

    Such an order can then become a charter of lawlessness and a

    weapon to  stifle prompt  investigation into  offences which

    could not  possibly be predicated when the order was passed.

    Therefore, the   court which  grants anticipatory  bail     must

    take care  to specify  the offence or offences in respect of

    which alone  the order  will be   effective. The power should

    not be exercised in a vacuum.

    There was         some discussion            before us  on certain minor

    modalities  regarding  the  passing  of    bail  orders  under

    Section 438(1).  Can an            order of  bail be passed under that

    section without notice to the public prosecutor? It can be.

    But notice  should issue  to the  public prosecutor  or     the

    Government Advocate  forthwith          and  the  question  of    bail

    should  be  re-examined            in  the  light     of  the  respective

    contentions of   the parties.  The ad-interim  order too must

    conform to  the requirements  of the  section  and  suitable

    conditions should  be imposed  on the applicant even at that

    stage. Should the operation of an order passed under Section

    438(1) be  limited in  point of     time? Not  necessarily. The

    Court may,  if there  are reasons  for doing  so, limit       the

    operation of  the order  to a  short period  until after the

    filing of  an F.I.R. in respect of the matter covered by the

    order. The applicant may in such cases be directed to obtain

    an order of bail under Section 437 or 439 of the Code within

    a reasonably  short period after the filing of the F.I.R. as

    aforesaid. But    this need  not be  followed as an invariable

    rule. The  normal role    should be not to limit the operation

    of the order in relation to a period of time.

    420

    During the        last couple  of  years    this  Court,  while

    dealing with  appeals against  orders passed by various High

    Courts, has  granted anticipatory  bail to  many a person by

    imposing conditions  set out  in Section 438(2)(i), (ii) and

    (iii). The Court has, in addition, directed in most of those

    cases that (a) the applicant should surrender himself to the

    police for a brief period if a discovery is to be made under

    Section 27  of the  Evidence Act or that he should be deemed

    to have surrendered himself  if such  a discovery  is to be

    made. In  certain exceptional  cases, the Court has, in view

    of the material placed before it, directed that the order of

    anticipatory bail  will remain       in operation only for a week

    or so  until after  the filing          of the   F.I.R. in respect of

    matters covered            by the order. These  orders, on the whole,

    have worked  satisfactorily, causing the least inconvenience

    to the individuals concerned and least interference with the

    investigational   rights     of  the   police.  The  Court     has

    attempted through  those orders           to strike a balance between

    the  individual's   right  to          personal  freedom   and            the

    investigational rights      of the   police. The  appellants   who

    were refused  anticipatory bail   by various courts have long

    since been  released by this Court  under Section 438(1) of

    the Code.

    The various  appeals and Special Leave petitions before

    us will   stand disposed of in    terms of  this Judgment. The

    judgment of  the Full  Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High

    Court, which  was treated  as the main case under appeal, is

    substantially set  aside as  indicated during  the course of

                                               this Judgment.                                        

    Appeals allowed in part.

     

     

     

     

     

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