Read Order: Maninderjit Singh @ Happy v. State of Punjab 

 Vivek Gupta

Chandigarh, July 10, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has rejected a plea filed by an accused seeking default bail, saying the prosecution had already moved, before the expiry of the mandatory 90 day period, an application for extension of time to file chargesheet.

The case pertains to the petition filed by an accused who was arrested under the charges of Unlawful Activity Prevention Act, 1967 May 8, 2020. He argued that the prescribed period for filing the chargesheet of mandatory 90 days (extendable up to 180 days subject to court approval) lapsed on 5 August, 2020 but the same was not filed till then and hence, he was entitled for an indefeasible right to be released on default bail on 91st day, i.e 6 August 2020.

He argued that he moved the application for the same before the trial court but it was rejected earlier this year in February. Hence he has now moved an appeal against the denial of default bail.

The state counsel argued that the prosecution had moved the application on August 3, 2020 seeking extension of the prescribed period of 90 days, well before the expiry of this period and the same was granted on August 7. Hence, there is no ground for the accused to seek the right of default bail

Deciding the matter, the division bench of Justices Arun Palli and Meenakshi I Mehta placed its reliance on Supreme Court’s order in the Rambeer Shokeen (supra) case.

It has been categorically observed in the SC order that where the application for seeking extension of time for filing the chargesheet has been filed by the Additional Public Prosecutor within time, before the expiry of 90 days and the same is pending on the date of filing of the fresh application by the accused for statutory bail, the mere fact that the said period of 90 days from the date of initial arrest of the accused in connection with the subject FIR had lapsed on that day, could not ineluctably entail in the grant of statutory bail to him. In law, only upon the rejection of the prayer for extension of time sought by the Additional Public Prosecutor, the right in favour of the appellant for grant of statutory bail could have been ignited.

The bench said in the present case, the statutory period to present the chargesheet was to expire/lapse on August 5, 2020. The prosecution had moved the application seeking extension of time to submit the chargesheet on August 3, 2020, well before the expiry of the said period and the same was accepted on August 7, 2020.

“Thus, in the light of the observations, recorded by the Apex Court in Rambeer Shokeen (supra), it is quite explicit that the appellant was not entitled to default bail pleading that the challan/charge-sheet had not been filed within the said period of 90 days or the order granting extension of time to present the challan was passed on August 7, 2020 i.e. after he moved an application for default bail,” the bench held. 

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