The Bench was considering the Central government’s request to have a top court decision that stated an accused person would be eligible for default bail if an incomplete chargesheet was filed by the investigating agency recalled. In Ritu Chhabra v. Union of India, the Court had decided on April 26 that default bail under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is a vital privilege and cannot be revoked by filing chargesheets before the investigation is over. Therefore, a chargesheet cannot be submitted before the inquiry is finished to deny the accused of default bail. The right to default bail was emphasised by a bench of Justices Krishna Murari and CT Ravikumar as being more than just a statutory right that derives from Article 21 of the Constitution. The government argued that the Ritu Chhabaria judgement is per incuriam since it did not even take into account the previous binding ruling of a co-equal bench in Dinesh Dalmia, which establishes a legal principle that has been in effect for the past 16 years.
Analysis of Court Order
The Supreme Court made it clear that its temporary direction to all courts to postpone applications filed in response to the Ritu Chhabaria judgement will not impair the right of courts to issue default bail. The Supreme Court was composed of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justices PS Narasimha, and JB Pardiwala.
The CJI subsequently volunteered to provide clarification, stating that the order will not prevent courts from making decisions about default bail applications. We make it clear that the court’s interim order from May 1, 2023, does not prevent any trial court or high court from granting default bail without reference to or reliance on the Ritu Chhabria decision from April 26, 2023.
In the Dalmia case, the Supreme Court ruled that subject to meeting the conditions and restrictions outlined in Section 167(2) CrPC, the court that had taken notice of the offence may utilise its power to grant police custody during the additional investigation. As a result, the court determined that it is not dependent on the Ritu Chhabria decision to pass a default bail.