SC Empowers High Courts, Sessions Courts to Grant Pre-Arrest Bail Across State Lines

New Delhi: In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has expanded the authority of High Courts and Sessions courts to grant pre-arrest bail, even if the case is filed in a different state. The court emphasized that such exceptional measures should only be taken in “exceptional and compelling circumstances” to safeguard the constitutional right to life and personal liberty.

The court set out guidelines for such cases, requiring applicants to provide a justifiable reason if they cannot approach the High Court with territorial jurisdiction. Valid reasons include a threat to life, personal liberty, or bodily harm. The court also stressed the need to inform the investigating officer and the probe agency on the first date of such protection.

To prevent abuse of power, the Supreme Court cautioned against forum shopping, stating that accused individuals cannot travel to another state solely to file bail pleas. It emphasized the importance of a territorial connection between the accused and the court seeking anticipatory bail.

This ruling comes in the context of a dowry case (Priya Indoria versus the State of Karnataka) where the accused-husband was granted anticipatory bail by a Bengaluru district judge despite the FIR being filed in Rajasthan. The Supreme Court reiterated the eight guidelines for granting or dismissing anticipatory bail, emphasizing the cautious and careful exercise of discretionary powers by courts.

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