Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J. allowed a criminal petition filed under Section 482 read with Section 439(2) CrPC and set aside the order of District and Sessions Judge whereby the accused was granted “default bail” in terms of Section 167(2)(a)(ii) CrPC on the ground that the prosecution failed to file the chargesheet within the stipulated period of 60 days from the date of the first remand.

The proceedings arose out of an FIR registered against the accused under Section 506, 409, 420 and 120-B IPC. The accused was a member of the governing body of one Vedanta Welfare Society. He, along with others, was accused of misrepresenting the victims that the membership of the Society was planned to be increased. It was alleged that for the passage of time, neither the money was refunded nor any share certificate allotted to them.

The controversy in the present petition related to the interpretation of Section 167 CrPC vis-a-vis Section 409 IPC. In other words, whether for an offence punishable under Section 409 IPC, the stipulated period for filing the chargesheet from the date of the first remand is 60 days or 90 days?

Perusing Section 409, the High Court noted that under the section, an accused could be punished with a sentence which is either imprisonment for life or for a term which may extend to 10 years. Thus, it is in the domain of the Court whether to impose the maximum or the minimum sentence, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. It was observed: “The offences which are punishable with sentence of death or life imprisonment or a sentence of not less than 10 years are serious and grave offences where an extensive investigation is required and thus an extended time to file the charge-sheet has been granted by the Legislature.”

Relying on Supreme Court decision in Rakesh Kumar Paul v. State of Assam, (2017) 15 SCC 67, the High Court held: “the ratio in the case of Rakesh Kumar Paul is unambiguous as to the applicability of Section 167(a)(i) [sic 167(2)(a)(i) CrPC to the offence punishable under Section 409 IPC. Accordingly, I am of the view that the stipulated period for filing the charge sheet for an offence punishable under Section 409 IPC would be 90 days and not 60 days.”

In the status report filed on behalf of the State, it was mentioned that the chargesheet had already been filed i.e., within the stipulated period of 90 days. In such view of the atter, the petition was allowed and the impugned order of the District and Sessions Judge granting default bail to the accused was set aside.[Lalita Saini v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 9651, decided on 14-08-2019]