2012 ALL MR (Cri) 3528
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
A.M. THIPSAY, J.
Indrabahadur Lalbahadur Khatri & Ors. Vs. The State Of Maharashtra
Criminal Bail Application No. 1046 of 2012
5th September, 2012
Petitioner Counsel: Mr. AMIT DESAI, Sr.Advocate i/b. Mr. PANKAJ KAVALE
Respondent Counsel: Mr. A.S. GADKARI
Criminal P.C. (1973), S.167 - Release on bail - Once charge sheet is filed, stage contemplated by S.167 is over - Merely because further investigation is undertaken after filing of charge-sheet - Arrested person not entitled to claim release on bail on expiry of maximum limit for detention - Unless detention would be by virtue of S.167, there would be no occasion to claim release on basis of maximum limit prescribed by clause (a) of first proviso to S.167(2). (Paras 15, 22)
Central Bureau of Investigation, Special Investigation Cell-I, New Delhi Vs. Anupam J. Kulkarni, (1992) 3 SCC 141 [Para 7,8]
State of Maharashtra Vs. Mrs.Bharati Chandmal Varma, 2002 ALL MR (Cri) 1215 (S.C.) [Para 7,10]
State of West Bengal Vs. Dinesh Dalmia, 2007 ALL MR (Cri) 1460 (S.C.) =(2007) 5 SCC 773 [Para 7,9]
JUDGMENT :- By this application, the applicants are claiming that they are entitled to be released on bail, in view of Clause (a) of the first proviso to Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Code). According to them, the period stipulated by the said proviso was over, when they applied for bail, but the investigation was still incomplete, and that as such, a right to be released on bail had accrued in their favour, which has been wrongly denied to them.
The applicants were arrested originally in C.R.No.59 of 2011, which was registered with J.J.Marg Police Station, on 17.5.2011. On 23.5.2011, the investigation of the said C.R. was transferred to DCB CID Unit-I, and thereafter, the said C.R. was re-numbered as 56 of 2011. It is an admitted fact that C.R.No.59 of 2011 of J.J.Marg Police Station and C.R.No.56 of 2011, registered by DCB CID Unit-I, are one and the same.
The applicant no.1 Indra Bahadur Khatri and applicant no.2 Sayeed Bilal Mustafa Ali Sayyed came to be arrested on 17.5.2011. The applicant nos.3 and 4, Abdul Rashad Abdul Rashid Shaikh and Adnan Hidayat Sayyad, came to be arrested on 24.5.2011.
After investigation, a charge sheet came to be filed against the applicants on 12.8.2011, alleging commission of offences punishable under Sections 302 and 341 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and also of offences punishable under the Arms Act. It was filed in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate, 37th Court, at Esplanade. The Learned Magistrate committed the case to the court of Sessions on 7.9.2011.
On 15.9.2011, prior approval for applying the provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (M.C.O.C. Act), as contemplated under Section 23(1) thereof, to this case, was obtained.
Thereafter, the applicants were rearrested on the allegations of having committed offences punishable under the M.C.O.C. Act. The applicant nos.1, 2 and 3 were so arrested on 22.9.2011, while the applicant no.4 was arrested on 21.9.2011.
4. On 22.9.2011, the applicants made an application before the Special court for bail, contending that the statutory period permitting their maximum detention under Section 167 of the Code, was over, and that therefore, the applicants were entitled to be released on bail mandatorily. This application was rejected by the Special court. The applicants are now before this court contending that, in law, they were entitled to be released in accordance with the provisions of proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 167 of the Code.
5. On 5.10.2011, a charge sheet against the applicants came to be filed under the provisions of the M.C.O.C. Act, and the said case is pending before the Special court, constituted under the said Act.
6. The emphasis of Mr.Amit Desai, the learned counsel for the applicants is on the contention that, taking the initial date of arrest, the charge sheet that had been filed on 5.10.2011, was certainly not within the time limit stipulated by Section 167 of the Code. According to him, the date of arrest of the applicants is required to be counted not from the so called arrest in the M.C.O.C. case, but from the date of their original arrest in C.R.No.59 of 2011, renumbered as C.R.No.56 of 2011. His emphasis is on that the applicants have been arrested in the same C.R. and that therefore, till the date on which they made an application - i.e. 22.9.2011 - the investigation not having been completed, they were entitled to be released on bail.
(i) Central Bureau of Investigation, Special Investigation Cell-I, New Delhi v/s. Anupam J. Kulkarni reported in (1992) 3 Supreme Court Cases 141,
(ii) State of Maharashtra v/s. Mrs.Bharati Chandmal Varma reported in 2002 ALL MR (Cri) 1215 (S.C.).
(iii) State of West Bengal v/s. Dinesh Dalmia reported in (2007) 5 Supreme Court Cases 773 : [2007 ALL MR (Cri) 1460 (S.C.)].
8. The point involved in Anupam J. Kulkarni case (supra) was entirely different and the ratio of the said decision does not help the applicants in any manner. There the question was, whether after the expiry of the period of first 15 days of custody, further remand for 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, could be only in judicial custody or it could also be in police custody, if the total period of 15 days in police custody had not been earlier exhausted.
9. In Dinesh Dalmia case, [2007 ALL MR (Cri) 1460 (S.C.)] (supra), though the question as to "how the starting point of the period of detention under Section 167 of the Code is to be determined" was discussed, the same is not relevant in the context of the present case.
10. In Bharati Chandmal Varma case (supra), initially the accused was arrested on 1.4.2001, on the allegations of having committed offences punishable under Section 489A, 489B, 489C etc. of the IPC. She was produced before the Magistrate on 2.4.2001 and was initially remanded into police custody and later into judicial custody, from time to time. On 21.4.2001, prior approval for applying the provisions of the M.C.O.C. Act to the case was obtained and the charge sheet was filed on 12.7.2001. The accused moved for bail on the ground that the charge sheet was not filed within the period of 90 days. It was contended that the period of 90 days was to be reckoned from 2.4.2001; and the argument of the prosecution was that it should be reckoned from 21.4.2001, on which date the provisions of the M.C.O.C. Act were applied. The contention of the prosecution was negatived by Their Lordships of the Supreme court of India and it was laid down that the period of 90 days would commence from the initial remand in custody i.e. 2.4.2001.
11. There can be no doubt about this legal position, but the reliance placed on the said decision, is misconceived in the facts of the present case, as the point from which the period of detention of the applicants is to be calculated, is not the issue in the present case.
12. In my opinion, the application filed by the applicants is misconceived. The contention that the applicants were entitled to be released on bail is based only on the provisions of Section 167 of the Code. Section 167 of the Code deals with the powers of the Magistrate to detain a person in custody, pending investigation. It provides for an outer limit for detention in such cases. In this case, charge sheet had already been filed, when the application for bail was filed by the applicants. Once a charge sheet is filed, the stage contemplated by Section 167 of the Code, is over. It is because, filing of the charge sheet signifies completion of investigation. The said proviso, provides for an outer limit for detention, pending investigation, and directs mandatory release of the arrested person from custody, after the prescribed period is over. It can have no application after the completion of investigation.
13. Mr.Amit Desai submitted that the filing of the charge sheet against the applicants is of no consequence, in as much as in the same case, later, investigation under the provisions of M.C.O.C. Act was undertaken. The submission is that the investigation was pending on the date on which the applicants applied for bail, and as the maximum period permissible for detention pending investigation, was over, the applicants were entitled to be released on bail. It is not possible to accept this submission. Further investigation can be undertaken by virtue of Section 173(8) of the Code. The fact that such further investigation is being carried out, would not attract the provisions of Section 167 of the Code. The filing of the charge sheet signifies completion of investigation, and merely because further investigation into the matter is being carried out, it cannot be argued that investigation is incomplete.
14. When this aspect of the matter was touched in the course of arguments, Mr.Amit Desai, the learned Senior Advocate, advanced an argument that the applicants' application was for release on bail in the case under the M.C.O.C. Act, for which no charge sheet had, till then, been filed. He contended that he was not seeking the release on bail in the Sessions case in which charge sheet was filed, but only in the M.C.O.C. Case, where it has not been filed. This submission is specious, and also contradicts some other arguments advanced on behalf of the applicants. That there is only case, is the basic contention of the applicants, and it is on the basis of this contention, that the period of remand is being reckoned from the applicants' initial remand into custody, by the Magistrate.
15. The real question is whether after the filing of the charge sheet, merely because further investigation is undertaken, the arrested person would be treated or taken as being under detention by virtue of Section 167 of the Code; and therefore entitled to claim release on bail on expiry of the maximum limit for detention, laid down in Clause (a) of first proviso to Section 167(2). The answer has to be "no." Sub-section (8) of Section 173 specifically permits further investigation even after it has been completed by filing of a charge sheet. But it does not speak of re-producing the arrested persons before the Magistrate, under the provisions of Section 167. The remand of the accused persons after the filing of the charge sheet would be governed by the provisions of Section 309 of the Code. Therefore, that further investigation is going on, cannot be taken advantage of, by the arrested persons, against whom charge sheet has already been filed, to claim that the maximum period provided by Clause (a) of first proviso to Section 167(2), is over, and that therefore, they should be released on bail.
16. The matter may be looked at, from another angle also. The applicants had not secured bail during the investigation stage. A charge sheet in respect of serious offences came to be filed against them, after investigation. Since the investigation was completed - as signified by the filing of charge sheet- within the period during which their detention was permitted by the said section, they could not, at that stage, claim release by virtue of the provisions of Clause (a) of first proviso to Section 167(2). They did not secure bail on merits. It is therefore, contrary to logic, that they should be entitled to be released on bail, merely because the investigating agency, by carrying out further investigation, attempted to show that the offences committed by them had wider ramifications, and were therefore of a graver and more serious nature. The applicants, who had already been charge sheeted on the accusation of a serious offence, would not be placed in an advantageous situation, merely because the investigation agency thereafter, claimed the offences to be of a more serious nature.
17. So far as this case is concerned, there is one more significant aspect which cannot be overlooked. It may be recalled that the case had been committed to the court of Sessions on 7.9.2011. Obviously, the accused persons / applicants were in custody on account of remand under Section 209(b) of the Code. When the applicants were in custody by virtue of the provisions of Clause (b) of Section 209 of the Code on that date, their emphasis to get released on the basis of the provisions of Section 167 of the Code, was totally uncalled for.
18. If the scheme of the provisions relating to remand and / or detention of arrested persons in custody found in the Code is examined, the mandatory release on bail is contemplated only where the detention would be under the provisions of Section 167. Though the contention of Mr.Amit Desai about the manner in which the time of 60 days or 90 days, as the case may be, is to be reckoned, is correct, still, it cannot be said that on the date on which the applicants sought bail, they were in detention by virtue of the provisions of Section 167 of the Code. It is needless to say, that entitlement to be released on bail under the Clause (a) of first proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 167 flows from the Magistrate's inability to remand the arrested person further in custody. The provisions of Section 167 are made for enabling the keeping of an arrested person under detention for the purpose of investigation; and the legislature has laid down the maximum period for authorizing such detention. It is because on the expiry of such period, such detention becomes unauthorized , that it has been mandated that the arrested person shall be released on bail. If this logic behind the said provision is understood, it becomes at once clear that the benefit of this said provision cannot be claimed by or extended to a person whose remand / detention in the same case has been authorized by any other provision/s in the Code.
20. Infact, in the circumstances when the applicants were in custody by virtue of a remand under Section 209 of the Code, the re-arrest was rather superfluous. The remand orders, if any, passed by the Special court were also totally superfluous. As already discussed, when the applicants were already in lawful custody under valid detention orders passed by the competent court of law, there would be no occasion for anyone to secure orders for their further detention/ remand, from any court in the same case or matter. It would be paradoxical if the applicants who were earlier not released on bail, are held to be entitled to be released on bail, merely because the investigating agency is attempting to show that the offences allegedly committed by them, had wider ramifications and were therefore, of a graver and more serious nature. This superfluous action cannot improve the position of the applicants, or place them in an advantageous situation.
21. Whether after the provisions of the M.C.O.C. Act had been invoked, there was any necessity of re-arresting the applicants, and at any rate, producing them before the Special court, for obtaining their remand, would be an altogether different aspect.
22. The conclusion that unless the detention would be by virtue of Section 167 of the Code, there would be no occasion to claim release on the basis of the maximum limit prescribed by the Clause (a) of first proviso to Section 167(2), is inescapable.