Read Order: Rajesh Seth vs. State of Chhattisgarh 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, February 25, 2022:  While disapproving the course adopted by the High Court as a matter of Procedure, the Supreme Court has opined that when an application for anticipatory bail was listed before the Single Judge, which was also accompanied by an application for ad-interim relief, the Judge should have decided the same one way or the other, so far as the ad-interim prayer or should have taken it up for consideration after giving some reasonable time to the State.

A Larger Bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli therefore observed that indefinite adjournment in a matter relating to anticipatory bail, that too after admitting it, is detrimental to the valuable right of a person.

Going by the background of the case, the petitioner filed an application u/s 438 CrPC seeking grant of anticipatory bail, which was accompanied with an I.A. seeking ex-parte ad-interim bail/interim protection during the pendency of the main application, which was admitted and listed for hearing after calling for case diary. 

The main grievance of the petitioner is that the High Court merely admitted the anticipatory bail application filed by him with a further direction to list in due course, but did not consider his I.A. seeking interim protection during pendency of the bail application although co-accused in the same FIR has been granted interim protection from arrest till the final disposal of application for anticipatory bail by the High Court. 

After considering the submissions, the Larger Bench observed that if admitted, the Judge should have listed the same for final disposal on a specific date, keeping in view the nature of relief sought in the matter. 

Not giving any specific date, particularly in a matter relating to anticipatory bail, is not a procedure which can be countenanced, added the Bench. 

The Larger Bench further observed that when a person is before the Court and that too in a matter involving personal liberty, least what is expected is for such a person to be given the result one way or the other, based on the merit of his case and not push him to a position of uncertainty or be condemned without being heard, when it matters.

The Apex Court therefore requested the Single Judge of the High Court to dispose of the anticipatory bail application, pending adjudication before him, on its own merits and in accordance with law, expeditiously and preferably within a period of two weeks. 

Till such time, we grant interim protection from arrest to the petitioner, added the Top Court.

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