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‘Accused can get bail if probe is not over in time’

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

‘Accused can get bail if probe is not over in time’:


In a judgement, the Supreme Court has held that an accused, irrespective of the merits of the case against him, should be granted “default” or “complusive” bail if the investigating agency does not complete the probe within a prescribed time limit.

Provisions in this regard:

An accused has an “indefeasible right” to default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure if the probe agency failed to complete the investigation on time.

Under Section 167, an accused can be detained in custody for a maximum of 90 days for a crime punishable with death, life imprisonment or a sentence of over 10 years. It is 60 days of detention if the probe relates to any other offence.

  • Also, Magistrates have to mandatorily inform the accused, especially those from the poor sections, of their statutory right to apply for default bail.


Why there is ever increasing of undertrials in prisons?

  1. Overburdened judiciary is a major reason for the delay in justice.
  2. Police and prison officials often fail to fulfill their roles, leading to long delays in trials.
  3. Most of the undertrials come from disadvantaged social groups — several surveys have shown that 50-55% of the undertrials are from minority communities and Dalits.
  4. Lack of resources constricts their ability to seek out lawyers and hostile police and prison authorities are rarely of help — despite a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that Article 21 of the Constitution entitles prisoners to a fair and speedy trial as part of their fundamental right to life and liberty.


Prelims Link:

  1. Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  2. Articles 20 and 22 of the Indian Constitution.
  3. Overview of Article 21.

Mains Link:

A large number of the poor, the Dalits and people from the minority communities are languishing in jail as undertrials because of a property-based bail system and a poor legal aid mechanism. How can speedy dispensation of justice be ensured to these undertrials? Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.