The Supreme Court has stayed an order by a single-bench of the Rajasthan High Court that restrains police from making arrests in offences where punishment is up to 3 years. The vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai stayed the order while hearing a petition filed by the Rajasthan High Court challenging the May 17 order.
The single bench of Justice Pankaj Bhandari had ordered in view of larger public interest that the police, who are involved in other more important task of enforcing the lock-down, may be restrained for the time being from making arrest of the accused persons, who are charged with offence where maximum sentence is upto three years, till July 17, 2021. The court had sought affirmation with regards to this from the Additional Advocate General representing the state who had accepted the same.
The apex court has also stayed operation of another directive of the court whereby the registry was directed to not list bail applications under Section 438 Cr.P.C in offences where maximum sentence extends up to three years, and the offence is triable by First Class Magistrate till reopening of Courts after Summer Vacation.
Senior Advocate Vijay Hansari submitted before the court that the single bench order was problematic and pointed out that the same bench had passed an order to not list bail applications during lockdown, and that order was also stayed by the apex court. The counsel for the state government aligned with the high court’s submissions.
The apex court, thus, issued notice in the petition and in the interim granted stay of the directions issued in para nos. 9, 10 and 11 of the impugned order.
On May 17, the bench of Justice Bhandari was dealing with an anticipatory bail application where the accused was charged under sections 457 (Lurking house-trespass or house-breaking) and 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian penal Code (IPC).
At the outset, the court noted that the court has a huge pendency of bail applications and as many as 5 benches of the court were hearing them. The court also observed that arrest of persons in cases where imprisonment extends upto 3 years and are triable by First Class Magistrate under present circumstances will prove to be counter-productive. “If a person, who is arrested and produced before the Magistrate and thereafter, sent to Jail is an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19, the inmates may be put at risk,” observed the court.
“Taking note of the above and also in view of larger public interest, this Court is of the view that the police may be restrained for the time being from making arrest of the accused persons, who are charged with offence where maximum sentence is upto three years, till 17th July, 2021. Thus, listing of bail applications under Section 438 Cr.P.C both before Sessions Court as well as High Court will be avoided,” it said.
The order may be read here:
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