SC:Order dated 23/3/2020 did not extend period of filing chargesheet

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 19th June 2020, in the matter of S. Kasi v. State through the Inspector of Police Samaynallur Police Station Madurai District pronounced that the order dated 23/3/2020 cannot be read to mean that it ever intended to extend the period of filing charge sheet by police as contemplated under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Section 57 of the Code of Criminal Procedure contains the embargo on the Police Officers to detain in custody a person arrested beyond 24 hours. The object is that the accused should be brought before a Magistrate without delay within 24 hours, which provision is, in fact, in consonance with the constitutional mandate engrafted under Article 22(2) of the Constitution. The provision of Section 167 is supplementary to Section 57. The power under Section 167 is given to detain a person in custody while police goes on with the investigation. Section 167 is, therefore, a provision which authorises the Magistrate permitting the detention of the accused in custody prescribing the maximum period. (Para 11)

The scheme of Code of Criminal Procedzure as noticed above clearly delineates that provisions of Section 167 of Code of Criminal Procedure gives due regard to the personal liberty of a person. Without submission of charge sheet within 60 days or 90 days as may be applicable, an accused cannot be detained by the Police. The provision gives due recognition to the personal liberty. (Para 14)

The limitation for filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/all other proceedings was extended to obviate lawyers/litigants to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals. The order (Order dated 23/3/2020 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Suo Motu W.P.(C) No.3 of 2020) was passed to protect the litigants/lawyers whose petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/all other proceedings would become time barred they being not able to physically come to file such proceedings. The order was for the benefit of the litigants who have to take remedy in law as per the applicable statute for a right. The law of limitation bars the remedy but not the right. When the above order was passed, it was for extending the limitation for filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/all other proceedings, the order was for the benefit of those who have to take remedy, whose remedy may be barred by time because they were unable to come physically to file such proceedings. (Para 17)

The order dated 23/3/2020 cannot be read to mean that it ever intended to extend the period of filing charge sheet by police as contemplated under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. (Para 17)

The Investigating Officer could have submitted/filed the charge sheet before the (Incharge) Magistrate. Therefore, even during the lockdown and as has been done in so many cases the charge-sheet could have been filed/submitted before the Magistrate (Incharge) and the Investigating Officer was not precluded from filing/submitting the charge-sheet even within the stipulated period before the Magistrate (Incharge). (Para 17)

The right of prosecution to file a charge sheet even after a period of 60 days/ 90 days is not barred. The prosecution can very well file a charge sheet after 60 days/90 days but without filing a charge sheet they cannot detain an accused beyond a said period when the accused prays to the court to set him at liberty due to non-filing of the charge sheet within the period prescribed. The right of prosecution to carry on investigation and submit a charge sheet is not akin to right of liberty of a person enshrined under Article 21 and reflected in other statutes including Section 167, Cr.P.C. (Para 18)

Neither the Supreme Court in its order dated 23/3/2020 can be held to have eclipsed the time prescribed under Section 167(2) of Cr.P.C. nor the restrictions which have been imposed during the lockdown announced by the Government shall operate as any restriction on the rights of an accused as protected by Section 167(2) regarding his indefeasible right to get a default bail on non-submission of charge sheet within the time prescribed. (Para 26)

Copy of order dated 23.03.2020: Order_23-Mar-2020

Copy of judgement: Judgement_19-Jun-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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