NEW DELHI, Aug 16 - The Supreme Court today granted default bail to former chairman of the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) Rakesh Paul.
After hearing both the sides, a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said the petitioner is held entitled to the grant of �default bail� on the facts and in the circumstances of this case. The trial judge should release the petitioner on �default bail� on such terms and conditions as may be reasonable.
�However, we make it clear that this does not prohibit or otherwise prevent the arrest or re-arrest of the petitioner on cogent grounds in respect of the subject charge and upon arrest or re-arrest, the petitioner is entitled to petition for grant of regular bail which application should be considered on its own merit. We also make it clear that this will not impact on the arrest of the petitioner in any other case. We allow the petition and set aside the judgment and order of the High Court,� the 32-page order said.
It was submitted that as of today, a chargesheet having been filed against the petitioner, he is not entitled to �default bail� but must apply for regular bail � the �default bail� chapter being now closed. �We cannot agree for the simple reason that we are concerned with the interregnum between January 4 and January 24, when no chargesheet had been filed, during which period he had availed of his indefeasible right of �default bail�. It would have been another matter altogether if the petitioner had not applied for �default bail� for whatever reason during this interregnum,� the order said.
The court observed that there could be a situation (however rare) where an accused is not prepared to be bailed out perhaps for his personal security since he or she might be facing some threat outside the correction home or for any other reason.
�But then in such an event, the accused voluntarily gives up the indefeasible right for default bail and having forfeited that right the accused cannot claim a resuscitation of the indefeasible right after the chargesheet or challan has been filed. But that is not the case insofar as the petitioner is concerned, since he did not give up his indefeasible right for �default bail� during the interregnum as is evident from the decision of the High Court rendered on January 11,� it said.
The court also noted that on the contrary, Paul had availed of his right to �default bail� which could not have been defeated on January 11 and which �we are today compelled to acknowledge and enforce. Consequently, we are of opinion that the petitioner had satisfied all the requirements of obtaining �default bail� he had put in more than 60 days in custody pending investigations into an alleged offence not punishable with imprisonment for a minimum period of 10 years, no chargesheet had been filed against him and he was prepared to furnish bail for his release, as such, he ought to have been released by the high court on reasonable terms and conditions of bail.�