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Bail under Section 436 of the Code

Sub-section (1): This section applies to only persons who are accused of committing a bailable offence. The presence of the word shall connote that it is mandatory that the person be let such a person out on bail. It is required that such a person seeking bail shall bring two persons as sureties and pay an amount as a bond. This is done to ensure such a persons’ appearance in court during his/her trial.

However, if such a person is unable to pay the specified sum of money or bring the sureties, bail will not be rejected. Such a person is termed as an indigent person. A person is said to be indigent when he is unable to give bail within a week of his arrest. The word appears in this section also includes a person who has voluntarily produced himself/herself before the court or police where no warrant or summons was issued. In Dharmu Naik v. Rabindranath Acharya, it was held that refusal to grant bail in contravention of this section will make the detention illegal and the police officer causing such detention may be held guilty of wrongful confinement under Section 342 of the Indian Penal Code.All you need to know about Preventive Arrest Laws in India - iPleaders

Sub-section (2): According to this subsection, if a person does not comply with the conditions of the bail-bond, the court can re-arrest such a person or issue a summons or a warrant. In Mohd. Shahabuddin v. State of Bihar, it was held that under no circumstances should the person be detained beyond the maximum period stated for the offence except when the delay is caused by the accused person itself.

Lastly, if the person accused is in detention for one half of the actual of his maximum punishment, the magistrate is to call upon the prosecution and hear their sides and on recording their reasons, either continue such a detention or release the person.

Bail under Section 437 of the code

When the offence committed is a non-bailable offence, it is upon the discretion of the Court and Police officer whether to grant bail or not. This Section deals with bails for non-bailable offences. The word may in this section connotes a certain level of discretion upon the court or the police officer granting such a bail.

The discretion which is applied should be exercised according to certain rules and principles as laid down by the code and also in line with Judicial decisions. There is no fixed rule which the court uses to determine their discretion. However, the probability of granting bail is inversely proportional to the gravity of the offence committed.

Discretion when applied to a court of justice, means sound discretion guided by law, it must be governed by law not humor and should not be arbitrary, vague and fanciful.

It is important to note that the object of detention during the criminal proceedings is not to punish the accused.

Following are a few accepted factors which the court take into consideration while granting bail in case of non-bailable offences:

  •         The severity of the punishment upon conviction,
  •         Danger of the accused absconding if granted bail,
  •         Probability of the accused tampering with witnesses and evidence if granted bail,
  •         The health, age and sex of the accused seeking such bail,
  •         The probability of the person committing more offences if released on bail, etc.

The above list is not at all exhaustive and the discretion varies from case to case. In Shahnawaz v. State of U.P, it was held that if a bail is granted to an accused by a bench then, another bench is not bound to grant bail to another similarly placed accused.

Subclause (3) states that the court can lay down certain conditions while granting bail to the accused which have to be strictly adhered to. These conditions can be imposed only by the Court and not by the police. It is important that such conditions are reasonable in nature. The conditions imposed should be such that are linked with the preventing the escape of the accused or preventing the accused from committing any further crime or such a condition in the interest of Justice.

In Mukeshbhai Nanubhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, the order of the Sessions Court granting bail on the condition that the accused should pay a certain amount, per month till the end of the proceedings was held incorrect. Further, seizure of passport and order to return dowry articles as a condition for grant of anticipatory bail was held to be incorrect by the Court.

Sub-clause (4) states that any officer or court releasing any person in a non-bailable offence is mandatorily required to record in writing the reasons for doing so. It has been held that this requirement helps the High Court or Court of Sessions to ascertain the correctness of such an order.

While releasing a person on bail there is always going to be a conflict between personal liberty of the accused and the societal interest at large. In Meenu Dewan v. State, it was held that, if the offence is of such a nature that affects the vital interest of the society and has adverse effects on social and family life of victims then, bail would not be granted.

Bail under Section 439 of Cr. P.C.

A person can move to the High Court or the Sessions Court to apply for bail under this Section only when he is in custody. In Naresh Kumar Yadav v. Ravindra Kumar, it has been held that a person is said to be in custody, within the meaning of this section only when he is in duress either because he/she is held by the investigation agency or other police or allied authority or is under the control of the court having been remanded by Judicial order, or having presented himself/herself to the court’s jurisdiction and submitted to its orders by physical presence.

The discretion granted to the High Court to grant bail is very wide and remains unfettered by Section 437 of the Code.

In Sanjay Chandra v. CBI, the followed points were clarified by the Supreme Court,

An accused is detained in custody not because of his guilt, but because there are sufficient probable grounds for the charge against him as to make it proper that he should be tried and because the detention is necessary to ensure his presence during trial.

While granting bail, three main elements are necessary to be considered, the charge, the nature of the evidence by which it is supported and the punishment to which the party will be liable if convicted.

Bail discretion, on the basis of evidence about the criminal record of the defendant is also of an exercise of relevance.

A person acquitted by the lower court for a grave offence, applying for bail at the High court will have a greater chance of getting bail as his chances of jumping the gauntlet of justice is much lesser as he already has confidence because of being acquitted once.

If the trial is to take a long period of time, it is not in the interest of justice that the accused are in jail for an indefinite period.

The accused should not be denied bail merely because of the sentiments of the community against bail. According to the law, the accused is innocent until he is proven guilty.

In A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras, it was held that the liberty of a citizen is undoubtedly important but this is to balance with the security of the community. A balance is required to be maintained between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational right of the police.

While granting bail there is always going to be a conflict between the personal liberty of the accused which is his Fundamental Right under Article 21 versus the society being exposed to the misadventures of a person alleged to have committed a crime. Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint, the more restraint on others to keep off from us, the more liberty we have.

Further, it has been held in Siddharam Satligappa Mhetre v. State of Maharashtra it was held, just as liberty is precious to an individual, is the interest of the society with respect to maintenance of peace, law and order. Both are equally important.

In State of U.P v. Amarmani Tripathi it was held that the following matters are to be considered while granting bail:

Whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence.

Nature and gravity of the charge

Severity of the punishment if convicted.

Danger of the accused absconding and fleeing if released on bail.

Likelihood of the offence being repeated by the accused if released on bail and

Reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being tampered with if the accused is granted bail.

In Sundeep Kumar Bafna v. State of Maharashtra, it was discussed, For the application of this section, it is necessary that the person seeking bail is in custody. Custody under this section includes when a person is arrested by the police, brought before a magistrate or when the magistrate orders remand to judicial or other custody. It is important to note that a person is said to be in (Judicial) custody even when he/she surrenders in court and submits to its direction.

Further, it was held that, if the magistrate disallows bail, the accused can move the Court of Sessions for the same. There is no such provision in the Code that prohibits a High Court from hearing a bail application and subsequently granting bail provided such a person is in custody.

Bail under Section 389 of the Code

This section can be invoked for granting bail under three circumstances: The person seeking for release of bail is already convicted for an offence, The person is in confinement and Such a person’s appeal against the conviction is pending.

This section is wide enough to include the hearing of the appeal seeking bail of a person who is convicted for an offence, punishment is life imprisonment or death. If the court accepts such an appeal and releases such a person, the prosecution is entitled to file an application for the cancellation of such a bail.

In Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi), it was held that while applying its discretion to hear such an appeal for bail, the court should inter alia consider the following things:

  •         Whether prima facie ground is disclosed for substantial doubt about the conviction and
  •         Whether there is any likelihood of unreasonable delay in the disposal of such an appeal.

An important feature of this section is that while exercising its power under this section, the appellate court can suspend the execution of the sentence as well as the conviction pending an appeal preferred by a convicted person, Held in V. Sundarami Reddy v. State. In addition to this, in Gopal v. State of M.P, it was held that the application for bail and the suspension of sentence under Section 389 is a class by itself maintainable only in a pending appeal. This is an essential component of the appeal.

The time taken by a court to dispose-off a case has to also be taken into consideration while granting bail. In Jadeja Ajitsinh Natubha v. State of Gujarat, it was held that as long as the appellate court is not in a position to hear the appeal of the accused regarding bail, within a reasonable timeframe, the court should, in the normal course release the accused on bail unless there are other valid reasons for doing otherwise. However, in Rabindra Nath Singh v. Rajesh Ranjan, it was held that the delay in hearing the appeal by itself is not a sufficient ground to grant bail.

In Khilari v State of U.P, it was held that irrespective whether the offence is bailable or non bailable, the discretion of releasing the person on bail lies in the discretion of the appellate court and this discretion is to be exercised judicially. Further, the appellate court is required to record the reasons for bail.

Bail under Section 395 of the Code

This section shall be invoked when there is a question of the Constitutional validity of any Act, regulation or Ordinance. A mere plea raised by a party challenging the validity of an act is insufficient for invoking this section and making a reference to the High Court. There should be a valid, substantial ground that challenges the validity of any Act for invoking this section. Before a lower court makes a reference to the High Court under this Section, it is required to record its reasons for doing so.

In line with this Section, Article 228 of the Constitution of India also empowers the High Court to withdraw a particular case from the subordinate court and take authority of such a case and dispose of it after hearing it.

Sub-section (2) of this Section specifies that only the Court of Sessions or the Metropolitan Magistrate have the power to make a reference to the High Court. Further, in Emperor v. Molla Fuzla Karim, it was held that such a reference can be made to the High Court only when there is a question of law and not of fact.

Section 397 of the Code

Under this section, the High Court or the Court of Sessions may call upon for the record of any proceedings before any inferior criminal court for the purpose of examining and satisfying itself as to the correctness and legality of any order passed by such an inferior court. The inferior court should be within the jurisdiction of the High Court.

In Purshottam v. State, it was held that the object of revisional jurisdiction is to confer upon the superior Criminal Courts a kind of supervisory jurisdiction. In case the superior court finds any flaw in the legality or correctness of the order passed by an inferior court within its jurisdiction, Sections 398 to 401 empower the Superior courts to pass an order correcting such flaws.

For the purpose of this section, the High Court is superior to the Court of Sessions. Hence, the High Court is empowered to call upon the records of any proceedings which were conducted In the Court of Sessions. However, in Ismat Sara v. State of Karnataka, it was held, that a magistrate holding an enquiry under section 176 of the code does not function as a Criminal Court and hence, the records of such an enquiry cannot be called upon by the High Court for the purpose of re-examination under Section 397.

Sub-section (2) of the Code disallows the practice of revisional power in relation to any interlocutory order passed in any appeal, inquiry or trial. This is done with the object of speeding up the disposal of criminal cases.

In K. Sudhakaran v. State of Kerala, it was held that revision petitions against interlocutory orders would not only delay justice but also at times defeat it. Interlocutory order has not been defined by the Code. In the normal course, interlocutory order is an order which is passed at some intermediate stage of a proceeding to advance the cause of justice with respect to the final determination of the rights between the parties.

Bail under Section 360 of the Code

This section is a piece of beneficent legislation as it empowers the court to release an accused who has been convicted on the basis of good conduct under certain circumstances. The object of this section is to avoid sending the first offender to prison for an offence which is not of a serious nature. This enables a hope of reducing the risk of turning such an offender into a regular criminal.

Sub-section (1) of section 360, Criminal Procedure Code, deals with the power of a court or a Magistrate of the second class specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf, to release a convicted offender on his entering into a bond, with or without sureties, to appear and receive sentence when called upon during such period (not exceeding three years) as the Magistrate may direct, and in the meantime to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The Magistrate thus has discretion either to punish the offender with imprisonment or release him on probation of good conduct. This section tries to reform the criminals by treating them leniently only in those cases where there is no serious danger or threat to the society.

In Hari Singh v. Sukhbir Singh, the learned judge held, the court is to use this discretion in respect to probation judicially, and having regard to the age, character and antecedents of the offender and the circumstances in which the offence was committed. The main of this section is to prevent youngsters from being committed to jail, where they may associate with hardened criminals, who may lead them further along the path of crime and further ruin their life due to bad influence, who may have committed the crime through ignorance or inadvertence, held in Jamal Haq v. State of Tripura

Probation cannot be claimed as a matter of right. This provision lays a discretion upon the Court as to whether to grant probation or not. It is important to note that even if all the conditions as specified under sub-section (3) are fulfilled the convict cannot claim probation as a matter of right.

Anticipatory Bails

The Code of Criminal Procedure (1898) did not contain any specific provision of anticipatory bail. The Law Commission of India, in its 41st Report dated September 24th 1969 pointed out the necessity of introducing a provision in the code of Criminal Procedure enabling the High Court and the Court of Sessions to grant Anticipatory bail.

The necessity of granting anticipatory bail arises mainly because of two reasons:

Sometimes influential persons try to implicate their rivals in false cases for the purpose of disgracing or for other mala fide intentions by getting them detained in jail for some days.

Where the likelihood of the person absconding or misusing the liberty is very insignificant.

The Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure operates on the premise of innocent until guilty. Hence, unless there is a very strong reason to detain the person in jail before the actual conviction such a person is not detained.

Section 438 lays down the procedure for anticipatory bail. When an order of Anticipatory bail is passed by the court, what happens is that in the event of arrest at a future date, the person will be granted bail. In other words, it is a bail in the anticipation of an arrest in the near future. This section can be invoked only before the person is arrested. For invoking this section, there should be a strong belief that the said person is going to be arrested.

The belief of such a person should be on tangible grounds. This section can be invoked not only when the arrest is apprehended at the hands of the police but also when the arrest is apprehended at the instance of the magistrate. Anticipatory bail can be issued only by passing an interim order. It is mandatory for the person applying for anticipatory bail to be present in court during the final hearing of the application.

According to the Law Commission Report (41st Law Commission Report, page 321), it was stated that the need for this provision is that sometimes it is possible that influential persons with their power would try to fraudulently implicate any person in false causes to disgrace them or for malice by getting them detained in jail. This section works as a shield for such persons who are likely to be detained.

Sub-clause (2) of this section uses the words as it may think fit implying that the judges have a wide discretion with respect to granting anticipatory bail. According to the 48th Law Commission Report (page 10), it has been stated that the directions can be issued only for reasons to be recorded, and if the court is satisfied that such a direction is necessary for the interest of justice.

Initially, in the general course, an application for anticipatory bail had to be first filed In the court of Sessions and then the High Court. However, in Chendrasekhar Rao v. Y.V Kamala kumari it was clarified that an application under Section 438 could be pleaded directly in the High Court, without taking recourse to the Court of Sessions.

Section 438 has a very wide scope. If the offence is non-bailable it is immaterial whether the offence is cognizable or non-cognizable. Further, in B. Kuppa Naidu v. State an anticipatory bail was granted to a person who was accused of committing an offence under the Custom Laws. This shows the wide scope of this Section that it can be invoked not only for offences under the IPC but other codes too. Anticipatory bail can even be granted to a person who is accused of committing a crime has punishment is that of life imprisonment or death.

Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia v. State of Punjab is a landmark case with respect to anticipatory judgement. A constitution bench had passed this judgement.

Following are the pointers of this case:

The difference between a normal bail and an anticipatory bail – The normal bail is granted after the arrest whereas, an anticipatory bail is granted before the arrest. Anticipatory bail is granted in anticipation of an arrest.

There is no restriction on granting anticipatory bail merely because the alleged offence is punishable with imprisonment for life or death.

The imminence of a likely arrest founded on a reasonable belief can be shown to exist even when a FIR is not yet filed. Which is to say that the registration of an FIR is not a condition precedent for applying for anticipatory bail.

Mere fear of being arrested is not a sufficient ground for invoking this section. There have to be substantive grounds.

It is true that the discretion to grant anticipatory bail is to be exercised with care and circumspection. However, it is not true to say that this power to grant anticipatory bail should be exercised only in exceptional cases.

The limitations imposed in Section 437 on granting of bail is not completely implicit in Section 438.

The High court or Sessions Court cannot leave the question behind with respect to anticipatory bail for the decision of the magistrate under Section 437. The High Court must use its own mind to check whether a case has been made out for granting such relief.

Considering the antecedents of the accused, if it appears that he will take advantage of the anticipatory bail and flee from justice, the judge would not pass the order.

In Masroor v. State of U.P, it was held that even though the judges have a wide discretion to grant anticipatory bail, if they do grant, they should mandatorily record the reasons for doing so. The conditions mentioned in sub-section (2) are not exhaustive and the courts may impose other conditions too.

The duration of the effectiveness of the anticipatory bail is not mentioned in this section. As soon as the person is enlarged on bail on the directions of the Anticipatory bail order, it would be deemed by implication that the bail was granted under Section 437.

However, in C.H Siva Prasad v. State of A.P, it was held that the bail shall be effective until the conclusion of the trial, unless it is cancelled by the court taking action under section 437(5) or under Section 439(2) of the code on the grounds known to law and filing of Challan in the court is by itself no ground to cancel the bail.

In Afsar Khan v. State by Girinagar Police, Bangalore, 1992 Cr.LJ 1676, Karnataka High Court observed, A reading of the entire Chapter which deals with the provisions relating to bail, does not say that when a person is released on bail, the Court can also insist upon him to give cash security. After all, the object of granting bail is to see that the liberty of an individual is extended. Of course, when an accusation is made against a person, in the event of his release, it is the duty of the Court to see that the interest of the State and the public is safeguarded. For that purpose, the Court is empowered to insist upon the appearance of the accused whenever so required either by the Police or Court either for investigation or to take up trial. During this period the Court can also warn the accused of his activities or movements in any way causing a fear or resulting in tampering with the prosecution evidence.

While the Court exercises its discretion, whether it is under S. 437 or 438 or 439, it shall exercise the same properly and not in an arbitrary manner. The discretion exercised shall appear a just and reasonable one. It is true that no norms are prescribed to exercise discretion. Merely because, norms are not prescribed for the Court to exercise discretion under Ss. 437, 438 or 439 that does not mean the discretion shall be left to the whims of the Court. Guiding principle shall be as indicated earlier with sound reasoning and in no way opposed to any other law. The Legislature has given this discretion to the Court keeping full faith in the system of administration of justice. While administering justice; it is the duty of the Court to see that any order to be passed or conditions to be imposed shall always be in the interest of both the accused and the State. The conditions shall not be capricious. On the other hand, it shall be in the aid of giving effect to the very object behind the discretion.

Difference between bailable and non-bailable offence


If the offence committed is non-bailable, the police officer cannot himself grant bail to the accused. Only the magistrate can authorize the bail in a non-bailable offence. An offence is said to be non bailable and when the punishment for it is more than 3 years. It is to be noted that just because the offence is non-bailable does not mean that the person accused will not be granted bail at all. In such cases it is up to the discretion of the court as to whether to grant bail or not.


In a bailable offence, the police officer in charge has the power to grant bail to the person accused. An offence is said to be bailable when the punishment for that offence is less than 3 years. It is the right of the accused to be released on bail in a bailable offence. This right is subject to certain conditions which will be discussed later in this paper.


An arrest of a person is a procedure where the liberty of a person is restrained to apprehend him for the commission of a crime. This may also be done in case of suspicion so that the alleged offender could be presented in court. It is important to arrest lawbreakers to ensure peace, law and order in the society. Usually, it is the police which arrests a person but in certain situations, private persons or a Magistrate are also empowered to arrest a person. The Magistrate has the power to order the arrest of a person and under certain situations also order the custody of such a person. Whereas a private person shall hand over the person arrested to the police or nearest police station as soon as possible. He shall take into consideration various factors before arresting an offender as it could be dangerous. Further, after the arrest of the person, the private person should follow the necessary protocol. They need to have a presence of mind as they are not trained to deal with such situations. Although it is dangerous for private persons to arrest offenders, they can do a commendable job by stopping an offender from getting away before the arrival of the police. 

Bail is an important check and balance to ensure that no innocent person is punished until proven guilty. But the complicated system of bail in the country’s criminal law system often fails to appreciate it. Grant or refusal of bail depends on factors that are remotely connected with the merit of the case. The recommendations of the Law Commission in its 268th report on bail reforms are important and they should be implemented so that a  fair and transparent system of bail evolves in our criminal law system. This would go a long way in upholding the rights of life and liberty enshrined in the Indian Constitution.



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