1. This petition raises a question of some importance as to what order should be passed when in a non-cognizable case the investigating agency has neither obtained an order for extension of time for investigation nor has riled any charge-sheet under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
2. The petitioner was arrested on May 24, 1975 by the R.P.F. Kurla, on the allegation that the railway receipt on which he obtained delivery of certain goods was forged. He was released on bond on June 2, 1975 on certain conditions. On October 6, 1975 F.I.R, was recorded against him by G.L.O. Kurla. On November 13, 1975 he was discharged on the request made by R.P.F. Kurla. But as soon as the petitioner came out of Court he was arrested on November 13, 1975, by inspector Tayde of the Railway C.I.D. Office, Poona. The proceedings continued under No. 118/75 of G.R.P. Kurla, Although his bail application was rejected by the Metropolitan Magistrate before whom he was produced, the Sessions Court at Bombay, had granted him bail on November 20, 1975. Consequent upon the order the petitioner executed a bail-bond and he was attending the Court on different dates as directed.
3. From time to time the Railway C.I.D. asked for extension for completing the investigation. It appears that in the meanwhile investigation was handed over to the Detective Inspector Crime Branch, C.I.D. Nagpur. Further extensions were asked for and granted but on July 1, 1977 the following order was passed 'Police to submit charge-sheet on July 4, 1977. Bail extended till then'.
4. On July 4, 1977, although one Kshirsagar from the office of the Detective Inspector, C.I.D., Nagpur, remained present in the Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate, he did not file a charge-sheet nor did he make any application for the discharge of the petitioner, nor did he apply for extension of time. Thus, there does not exist any order for extension of bail or cancellation of bail-bond. No order was passed by the learned Magistrate. Instead the matter was allowed to remain at that stage hanging loosely. In such circumstances, the petitioner approached this Court for anticipatory bail on the submission that in spite of Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and in spite of the petitioner's readiness to stand his trial, the petitioner may be rearrested afresh and put to inconvenience.
5. Since the petitioner was already granted bail and he was reporting to the Magistrate on different dates, this was not taken as a fit case to entertain a prayer for anticipatory bail. Instead there was an infirmity when the learned Magistrate did not pass any decisive order. Hence rule was issued directing the State to put in its say.
6. The State has not filed any reply. But Mr. Hudlikar for the State, has informed the Court that the petitioner was on bail in Crime No. 118/75 of G.R.P. Kurla and that he is not required to be arrested for any other offence on the subject-matter of C.R. No. 118/75. He confirms the position that on July 4, 1977 no extension was asked for, no charge-sheet was filed and no discharge was asked for.
7. It seems, it was incumbent upon the learned Magistrate to pass an order of discharge and to cancel the bail-bond executed by the petitioner when no charge-sheet was filed and no further extension of time for filing the charge-sheet was granted. Not passing any order and keeping the petitioner as accused in the custody works to his prejudice.
8. Hence Rule is made absolute. The petitioner is discharged; Bail-bond executed by him in Crime No. 118/75 G.R.P. Kurla, is cancelled.
9. The matter was kept for rehearing before the transcription of the dictated judgment as the correctness of the order for discharge was doubted.
10. It is apparent that no further remand was granted and as such there was no further date on which the petitioner was required to attend the Court. There is no express order made by the Magistrate stopping further investigation but obviously no further date for filing the charge-sheet is given.
11. A reference to Section 167(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure would show that in case where the investigation is not complete within six months of the giving of the information and if it happens to be a summons-case, then the Magistrate is empowered to stop further investigation. There is no corresponding provision for stopping such investigation if the case happens to be a warrant-case. It is therefore possible to argue that the Legislature did not want the stoppage of investigation in a warrant-case although long time may have elapsed since the filing of the F.I.R.
12. That however, could not be interpreted to mean that the accused who may be an undertrial prisoner should languish in jail for an indefinite period without knowing what is to happen further. Even if the accused is released on bail he may have to await his fate indefinitely. Mere cancellation of the bail-bond would not be very effective because it could be argued that in the absence of any release on bail, the police officer continuing the investigation would have the power to arrest the accused immediately. Although therefore, the learned Magistrate has not given any further date on which the charge-sheet was required to be filed, it looks to me that not only the bail-bond executed by the accused has to be cancelled but that the accused is required to be discharged so that he would be under no obligation to present himself before the Court and that he cannot be re-arrested except perhaps by obtaining fresh orders.
13. This release can be justified on the principle that non-extension of the remand and keeping the accused in detention amounts to his illegal detention. In other words, if there is no extension of remand, the accused is entitled to his freedom. For this purpose reference can be made to the decision in Ram Narayan Singh v. State of Delhi : 1953CriLJ113 . That was a petition for habeas corpus, which arose because of the detention of the accused inclusive of the petitioner without any extension of the remand. To state briefly the first order of remand which was obtained on March 6 expired on March 9. On that day as observed in para. 3 of the judgment, no order of remand was in force. On that day, a simple order adjourning the case till March 11 was passed. In interpreting that situation, the learned Judges of the Supreme Court have observed as follows (para. 4, p. 278):
.The Court records produced before us do not contain any order of remand made on 9th March. As we have already observed, we have the order of the trying Magistrate merely adjourning the case to 11th.We are not satisfied that there was any order of remand committing the accused to further custody till 11th March. It has been held by this Court that in habeas corpus, proceedings the Court is to have regard to the legality or otherwise of the detention at the time of the return and not with reference to the institution of the proceedings. The material date on the facts of this case is 10th March, when the affidavit on behalf of the Government was filed justifying the detention as a lawful one. But the position, as we have stated, is that on that date there was no order remanding the four persons to custody. This Court has often reiterated before that those who feel called upon to deprive other persons of their personal liberty in the discharge of what they conceive to be their duty, must strictly and scrupulously observe the forms and rules of the law. That has not been done in this case. The petitioner now before us are, therefore, entitled to be released, and they are set at liberty forthwith.
14. In allowing the habeas corpus therefore, the Supreme Court has held the detention of a person in custody after the expiry of the remand order without any fresh order of remand as illegal custody.
15. The present petitioner was not in custody but by passing of an order of remand, he was under obligation, to present himself in Court and otherwise to fulfil the terms of the bail-bond. When no extension of remand was granted it is obvious that he did not continue to be responsible for complying with those obligations. The bail-bond executed by him, has therefore to be cancelled but as a necessary consequence, he will have to be discharged. Consequently, the order already passed is confirmed. Rule is made absolute. The petitioner is discharged. The bail-bond executed by him in Crime No. 118/75 G.R.P. Kurla, stands cancelled.