The protection of anticipatory or pre-arrest bail cannot be limited to any time frame or “fixed period” as denial of bail amounts to deprivation of the fundamental right to personal liberty in a free and democratic country, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled.

A five-judge Bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, acknowledged that anticipatory bail helps thwart influential powers from implicating their rivals in false cases. Section 438 (anticipatory bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure protects people from the ignominy of detention in jail for days on end and disgrace to their reputation. 

The court recorded its amicus curiae and senior advocate Harin Raval’s argument that anticipatory bail is all the more needed now because there is an accentuation of political rivalry and “this tendency is showing signs of steady increase”.

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