UAPA accused entitled for bail if prosecution nod is delayed: Punjab and Haryana HC
Punjab and Haryana HC has held that an accused arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, is entitled for default bail if government fails to accord prosecution sanction within timeframe fixed for the same
The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that an accused arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, is entitled for default bail if government fails to accord prosecution sanction within timeframe fixed for the same.
“The provisions of the UA(P) Act are stringent. Keeping that in mind, a specific time limit for grant of sanction has been specified. It would be a travesty of justice if the accused is kept in custody for long periods after conclusion of investigation, just to await sanction so that cognisance may be taken. As no consequence for the delay in grant of sanction has been stipulated in the UA(P) Act or Rules, in our view it would be appropriate that in such a case the accused is released on interim bail to surrender once the sanction is received,” the bench of justice Lalit Batra and justice Harinder Singh Sidhu observed.
The plea was filed by Manjeet Singh, who was arrested in Jalandhar on June 15, 2022, after pro-Khalistan slogan was found painted on the wall outside the office of one Gulshan Sharma.
The statutory period of 90 days for the presentation of challan was to end on October 10, 2022, and the challan was presented on October 8, 2022, but without obtaining sanction from the competent authorities. The prosecution sanction from the government was sought on October, 6, 2022, which as per rules, had to be given within seven days. However, it still remains pending.
In the plea in high court, it was argued that since challan was submitted without obtaining sanction, it could not be termed as a complete probe report. Further, it was argued that with sanction still pending, the petitioner cannot be kept in custody indefinitely as court can’t take note of the challan without sanction.
The court observed that sanction is not a stage in investigation but wholly separate from the probe and challan can’t be termed as incomplete if submitted without prosecution sanction from the government.
The court observed that period of seven days, within which sanction has to be accorded, is mandatory.
“Accordingly, it is held that on conclusion of investigation and filing of challan, if no decision on sanction is taken and communicated within the period as specified in the 2008 rules, the accused ought to be released on interim bail,” the court recorded, allowing default bail to the accused. The bench, however, made it clear that at the time of interim bail, the accused would give an undertaking that as and when sanction is granted, he would surrender before the court.
The court did not express any opinion on the question that if cognisance is taken on a sanction order granted after the prescribed period, whether the same would be vitiated. It said that such a situation was not before the court as the appellant did not seek the quashing of the criminal proceedings on this ground.