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In a Landmark Judgement Top Court issued guidelines to prevent unnecessary arrest, remand and stressed upon the importance of the rule “Bail Over Jail”


 Landmark Judgement Top Court issued guidelines

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION                            
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) NO.5191 OF 2021                                                         

“Liberty is one of the most essential requirements of the modern man. It is said to be the delicate fruit of a mature civilization. It is the very quintessence of civilized existence and essential requirement of a modern man”

- John E.E.D. in "Essays on Freedom and Power"

1. Taking note of the continuous supply of cases seeking bail after filing of the final report on a wrong interpretation of Section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter referred to as “the Code” for short), an endeavour was made by this Court to categorize the types of offenses to be used as guidelines for the future. Assistance was sought from Shri Sidharth Luthra, learned senior counsel, and learned Additional Solicitor General Shri S.V.

Raju. After allowing the application for intervention, an appropriate Order was passed on 07.10.2021. The same is reproduced as under:

“We have been provided assistance both by Mr. S.V. Raju, learned Additional Solicitor General and Mr. Sidharth Luthra, learned senior counsel and there is broad unanimity in terms of the suggestions made by learned ASG. In terms of the suggestions, the offences have been categorized and guidelines are sought to be laid down for grant of bail, without fettering the discretion of the courts concerned and keeping in mind the statutory provisions.

We are inclined to accept the guidelines and make them a part of the order of the Court for the benefit of the Courts below. The guidelines are as under:

Categories/Types of Offences A) Offences punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or less not falling in category B & D.

B) Offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for more than 7 years.

C) Offences punishable under Special Acts containing stringent provisions for bail like NDPS (S.37), PMLA (S.45), UAPA (S.43D(5), Companies Act, 212(6), etc. D) Economic offences not covered by Special Acts.


1) Not arrested during investigation.

2) Cooperated throughout in the investigation including appearing before Investigating Officer whenever called.

(No need to forward such an accused along with the chargesheet (Siddharth Vs. State of UP, 2021 SCC online SC 615) CATEGORY A After filing of chargesheet/complaint taking of cognizance

a) Ordinary summons at the 1st instance/including permitting appearance through Lawyer.

b) If such an accused does not appear despite service of summons, then Bailable Warrant for physical appearance may be issued.

c) NBW on failure to failure to appear despite issuance of Bailable Warrant.

d) NBW may be cancelled or converted into a Bailable Warrant/Summons without insisting physical appearance of accused, if such an application is moved on behalf of the accused before execution of the NBW on an undertaking of the accused to appear physically on the next date/s of hearing.

e) Bail applications of such accused on appearance may be decided w/o the accused being taken in physical custody or by granting interim bail till the bail application is decided.

CATEGORY B/D On appearance of the accused in Court pursuant to process issued bail application to be decided on merits.

CATEGORY C Same as Category B & D with the additional condition of compliance of the provisions of Bail under NDPS S.37, 45 PMLA, 212(6) Companies Act 43 d(5) of UAPA, POSCO etc.” Needless to say that the category A deals with both police cases and complaint cases.

The trial Courts and the High Courts will keep in mind the aforesaid guidelines while considering bail applications. The caveat which has been put by learned ASG is that where the accused have not cooperated in the investigation nor appeared before the Investigating Officers, nor answered summons when the Court feels that judicial custody of the accused is necessary for the completion of the trial, where further investigation including a possible recovery is needed, the aforesaid approach cannot give them benefit, something we agree with.

We may also notice an aspect submitted by Mr. Luthra that while issuing notice to consider bail, the trial Court is not precluded from granting interim bail taking into consideration the conduct of the accused during the investigation which has not warranted arrest. On this aspect also we would give our imprimatur and naturally the bail application to be ultimately considered, would be guided by the statutory provisions.

The suggestions of learned ASG which we have adopted have categorized a separate set of offences as “economic Offences” not covered by the special Acts. In this behalf, suffice to say on the submission of Mr. Luthra that this Court in Sanjay Chandra vs. CBI, (2012) 1 SCC 40 has observed in para 39 that in determining whether to grant bail both aspects have to be taken into account:

a) seriousness of the charge and

b) severity of punishment.

Thus, it is not as if economic offences are completely taken out of the aforesaid guidelines but do form a different nature of offences and thus the seriousness of the charge has to be taken into account but simultaneously, the severity of the punishment imposed by the statute would also be a factor.

We appreciate the assistance given by the learned counsels and the positive approach adopted by the learned ASG.

The SLP stands disposed of and the matter need not be listed further. A copy of this order be circulated to the Registrars of the different High Courts to be further circulated to the trial Courts so that the unnecessary bail matters do not come up to this Court.

This is the only purpose for which we have issued these guidelines, but they are not fettered on the powers of the Courts.”

8.3. The Magistrate before authorising detention will record his own satisfaction, may be in brief but the said satisfaction must reflect from his order. It shall never be based upon the ipse dixit of the police officer, for example, in case the police officer considers the arrest necessary to prevent such person from committing any further offence or for proper investigation of the case or for preventing an accused from tampering with evidence or making inducement, etc. the police officer shall furnish to the Magistrate the facts, the reasons and materials on the basis of which the police officer had reached its conclusion. Those shall be perused by the Magistrate while authorising the detention and only after recording his satisfaction in writing that the Magistrate will authorise the detention of the accused.

8.4. In fine, when a suspect is arrested and produced before a Magistrate for authorising detention, the Magistrate has to address the question whether specific reasons have been recorded for arrest and if so, prima facie those reasons are relevant, and secondly, a reasonable conclusion could at all be reached by the police officer that one or the other conditions stated above are attracted. To this limited extent the Magistrate will make judicial scrutiny.

9. …The aforesaid provision makes it clear that in all cases where the arrest of a person is not required under Section 41(1) CrPC, the police officer is required to issue notice directing the accused to appear before him at a specified place and time. Law obliges such an accused to appear before the police officer and it further mandates that if such an accused complies with the terms of notice he shall not be arrested, unless for reasons to be recorded, the police officer is of the opinion that the arrest is necessary. At this stage also, the condition precedent for arrest as envisaged under Section 41 CrPC has to be complied and shall be subject to the same scrutiny by the Magistrate as aforesaid.

10. We are of the opinion that if the provisions of Section 41 CrPC which authorises the police officer to arrest an accused without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant are scrupulously enforced, the wrong 
committed by the police officers intentionally or unwittingly would be reversed and the number of cases which come to the Court for grant of anticipatory bail will substantially reduce. We would like to emphasise that the practice of mechanically reproducing in the case diary all or most of the reasons contained in Section 41 CrPC for effecting arrest be discouraged and discontinued.

11. Our endeavour in this judgment is to ensure that police officers do not arrest the accused unnecessarily and Magistrate do not authorise detention casually and mechanically. In order to ensure what we have observed above, we give the following directions:

11.1. All the State Governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A IPC is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down above flowing from Section 41 CrPC;

11.2. All police officers be provided with a check list containing specified sub-clauses under Section 41(1)(b)(ii);

11.3. The police officer shall forward the check list duly filled and furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest, while forwarding/producing the accused before the Magistrate for further detention;

11.4. The Magistrate while authorising detention of the accused shall peruse the report furnished by the police officer in terms aforesaid and only after recording its satisfaction, the Magistrate will authorise detention;

11.5. The decision not to arrest an accused, be forwarded to the Magistrate within two weeks from the date of the institution of the case with a copy to the Magistrate which may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the district for the reasons to be recorded in writing;

11.6. Notice of appearance in terms of Section 41-A CrPC be served on the accused within two weeks from the date of institution of the case, which may be extended by the Superintendent of Police of the district for the reasons to be recorded in writing;

11.7. Failure to comply with the directions aforesaid shall apart from rendering the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, they shall also be liable to be punished for contempt of court to be instituted before the High Court having territorial jurisdiction.

11.8. Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the Judicial Magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.

12. We hasten to add that the directions aforesaid shall not only apply to the cases under Section 498-A IPC or Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the case in hand, but also such cases where offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years, whether with or without fine.”

26.We only reiterate that the directions aforesaid ought to be complied with in letter and spirit by the investigating and prosecuting agencies, while the view expressed by us on the non-compliance of Section 41 and the consequences that flow from it has to be kept in mind by the Court, which is expected to be reflected in the orders.

27.Despite the dictum of this Court in Arnesh Kumar (supra), no concrete step has been taken to comply with the mandate of Section 41A of the Code. This Court has clearly interpreted Section 41(1)(b)(i) and (ii) inter alia holding that notwithstanding the existence of a reason to believe qua a police officer, the satisfaction for the need to arrest shall also be present. Thus, sub-clause (1)(b)(i) of Section 41 has to be read along with sub-clause (ii) and therefore both the elements of ‘reason to believe’ and ‘satisfaction qua an arrest’ are mandated and accordingly are to be recorded by the police officer.

28.It is also brought to our notice that there are no specific guidelines with respect to the mandatory compliance of Section 41A of the Code. An endeavour was made by the Delhi High Court while deciding Writ Petition (C) No. 7608 of 2017 vide order dated 07.02.2018, followed by order dated 28.10.2021 in Contempt Case (C) No. 480 of 2020 & CM Application No. 
25054 of 2020, wherein not only the need for guidelines but also the effect of non-compliance towards taking action against the officers concerned was discussed. We also take note of the fact that a standing order has been passed by the Delhi Police viz., Standing Order No. 109 of 2020, which provides for a set of guidelines in the form of procedure for issuance of notices or orders by the police officers. Considering the aforesaid action taken, in due compliance with the order passed by the Delhi High Court in Writ Petition (C) No.7608 of 2017 dated 07.02.2018, this Court has also passed an order in Writ Petition (Crl.) 420 of 2021 dated 10.05.2021 directing the State of Bihar to look into the said aspect of an appropriate modification to give effect to the mandate of Section 41A. A recent judgment has also been rendered on the same lines by the High Court of Jharkhand in Cr.M.P. No. 1291 of 2021 dated 16.06.2022.

29.Thus, we deem it appropriate to direct all the State Governments and the Union Territories to facilitate standing orders while taking note of the standing order issued by the Delhi Police i.e., Standing Order No. 109 of 2020, to comply with the mandate of Section 41A. We do feel that this would certainly take care of not only the unwarranted arrests, but also the clogging of bail applications before various Courts as they may not even be required for the offences up to seven years.

74.The Registry is directed to send copy of this judgment to the Government of India and all the State Governments/Union Territories.

75.As such, M.A. 1849 of 2021 is disposed of in the aforesaid terms. I.A.

No.51315 of 2022, application for intervention is allowed. I.A. Nos. 164761 of 2021, 148421 of 2021 and M.A. Diary No.29164 of 2021 (I.A.No.154863 of 2021), applications for clarification/direction are also disposed of. List for compliance after a period of four months from today.


(SANJAY KISHAN KAUL) ……………………………J.

(M.M. SUNDRESH) New Delhi July 11, 2022

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