Dispute on Vijay Babu's bail: HC to check if pre-arrest bail can be granted to accused who is abroad


Kerala High Court

Kochi: A division bench of Kerala High Court will inspect whether the anticipatory bail plea filed by an accused on the run, who has moved to another country after knowing that a case based on non-bailable offences is charged against them, is valid. Pointing out the various norms of the High Court over this matter, Justice P V Kunhikrishnan has left the matter for review by the division bench.

The instruction for the review by the division bench was put forward by Kunhikrishnan by "respectfully disagreeing" with his colleague Justice Bechu Kurian Joseph who granted anticipatory bail to actor and director Vijay Babu in the sexual assault case filed by an actress. Justice Bechu had first allowed an interim pre-arrest bail for the accused to return to Kerala and then granted the anticipatory bail after hearing the matter.

Matters such as whether there is scope for an interim bail for anticipatory bail petition filed by accused from abroad and whether the police can be restrained from arresting the accused in cases that are being investigated will be considered by the division bench.

Justice Kunhikrishnan was considering a similar anticipatory bail plea of a Pathanamthitta native who was accused in a POCSO case. Since the accused was abroad, the anticipatory bail plea was rejected. This was done by pointing out the previous order passed by a division bench in the SM Shafi case. However, another bench granted anticipatory bail to Vijay Babu on the same day. Following this, the matter was reinspected by Justice P V Kunhikrishnan.

According to CrPC Section 438, the court has no right to stop the arrest of the accused during the investigation phase. If needed, interim bail may be allowed. The Single Bench also opined that a reinspection is needed in the rulings over the Vijay Babu case.

High Court on SM Shafi case: Anticipatory bail petitions filed by an accused from abroad will not be considered.

Supreme Court on Sushila Aggarwal case: The court must not impose unnecessary restrictions on bail pleas if there is no legal restriction.

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