High Courts and Sessions Courts can grant limited anticipatory bail in case FIR is registered outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said court: SC

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Today, the Supreme Court (SC of India was hearing a Special Leave Petition filed against the Banglore Session Judge’s judgment allowing the extraterritorial bail petition by the accused husband. The petitioner approached the Supreme Court in an SLP and the matter was heard by Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan. After the Diwali vacation, today (November 20, 2023), the SC reopened to continue the court proceedings. While hearing the matter today, the bench ruled that the High Courts or Sessions Courts can grant anticipatory bail to an accused when the FIR is not registered within the territory of a particular state but in another state. The order reads, “Considering the constitutional imperative of protecting citizen’s right to life, and personal liberty, the HC/Session should grant limited anticipatory bail in the form of interim protection under Section 438 of CrPC in the interest of justice with respect to FIR registered outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said court.”

While delivering the judgment, the SC bench also highlighted certain conditions to be followed for granting anticipatory bail in such cases which are as follows:

  • “Prior to the passing of the order of limited anticipatory bail, the Investigating Officer and the Public Prosecutor who are seized of FIR shall be issued notice, though the court in an appropriate case, the court would have the discretion to grant interim anticipatory bail. The order of grant must record reasons as to why the applicant apprehends an inter-state arrest and the impact of interim anticipatory bail as the case may be on the status of the investigation.
  • The jurisdiction in which the cognizance of the offense has been taken does not exclude the said offense from the scope of anticipatory bail by way of a state amendment to Section 438 CrPC.
  • The applicant must satisfy the court, regarding his inability to seek such bail from the court having territorial jurisdiction.
  • The grounds raised may be a reasonable and immediate threat to life, personal liberty, and bodily harm, the jurisdiction where FIR is registered, the apprehension of violation of the right to life liberty or impediments owing to arbitrariness, the medical status or disability of person seeking extra-territorial limited anticipatory bail.”

The SC bench further added, “It would be fully impossible for all exigent circumstances in which order for extraterritorial anticipatory to safeguard the fundamental right of the applicant. We reiterate such power should be granted in exceptional and compelling circumstances only which means that denying transit bail or interim protection to enable the applicant to make an application under Section 438 would cause irremediable and irreversible prejudice to the applicant.” While hearing the matter, the SC bench considered its previous judgments. After hearing the contentions of both parties, in association with the current case circumstances, the SC held that “The impugned order of Sessions Judge does not take note of respondent no.2 for allowing the criminal miscellaneous petition. Orders are set aside. However, in the interest of justice, no coercive steps may be taken against the accused for the next 4 weeks to enable them to approach the jurisdictional court in Rajasthan for anticipatory bail. In case the application is made Sessions Court/HC, the same shall be decided expeditiously.”