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Non-bailable warrants cannot be issued in a routine manner: SC

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New Delhi, May 2:  In the latest judgment, the Supreme Court has said that non-bailable warrants cannot be issued in a routine manner unless the accused is charged with a heinous crime and is likely to evade the process of law or destroy/tamper evidence.

A bench presided over by Justice Sanjiv Khanna said that while there is no comprehensive set of guidelines for the issuance of non-bailable warrants, the apex court has observed on several occasions that non-bailable warrants should not be issued, unless the accused is charged with a heinous crime, and is likely to evade the process of law or tamper/destroy evidence.

Quashing the summoning order, the Bench, also comprising Justice SVN Bhatti, said, “It is a settled position of law that non-bailable warrants cannot be issued in a routine manner and that the liberty of an individual cannot be curtailed unless necessitated by the larger interest of public and the State.”

In 2021, the Special Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow issued non-bailable warrants against one Manager Singh noting that there was no provision for granting exemption from personal appearance prior to obtaining bail. Another order recorded that as the accused remained absent despite the issuance of bailable warrants, non-bailable warrants were issued to ensure his personal appearance.

“The observation that there is no provision for granting exemption from personal appearance prior to obtaining bail, is not correct, as the power to grant exemption from personal appearance under the Code (of Criminal Procedure) should not be read in a restrictive manner as applicable only after the accused has been granted bail. This Court in Maneka Sanjay Gandhi and Another v. Rani Jethmalani held that the power to grant exemption from personal appearance should be exercised liberally when facts and circumstances require such exemption,” the top court said.

It asked the trial court to re-examine the entire matter in terms of the observations made in its judgment and thereupon proceed in accordance with the law.

In the exercise of power under Article 142 read with Article 136 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court ordered that the accused, Manager Singh, will be released on bail by the arresting officer, investigating officer or trial court on the terms and conditions to be fixed by the trial court.

IANS

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