Supreme Court Ruling on Transit Anticipatory Bail

The recent Supreme Court judgment addressed the crucial question of “Whether the power of the High Court or the Court of Session to grant anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C. could be exercised with respect to an FIR registered outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said Court?”


The case involved a detailed examination of jurisdictional complexities, such as an offence committed in one state while the accused resides in another. While the judgment skillfully reconciled conflicting views among High Courts, it essentially clarified existing legal principles rather than introducing new ones. Notably, it underscored the expanded scope of Section 438 post the Sushila Aggarwal Vs. NCT of Delhi ruling, stating that anticipatory bail remains valid until the final judgment.


The key outcome of Priya Indoria Vs. State of Karnataka is the empowerment of any High Court or Court of Session where the accused resides to grant anticipatory bail, even if the alleged offence occurred elsewhere.


In the meticulous interpretation of the words in Section 438, the Court determined that had Parliament intended the phrase “High Court or Court of Session” to exclusively denote the court that takes cognizance of an offence, such intent would have been explicitly articulated.


Consequently, taking into consideration the aforementioned reasoning, the Supreme Court held that:


a. The High Court or Court of Sessions nearest to the accused where he/she resides can be approached for anticipatory bail even if no alleged offence may have been committed within the territorial jurisdiction of these courts.


b. Such court can pass interim orders thereby prohibiting the police to arrest the accused or may give a transit anticipatory bail for a fixed period of time to the accused. Both such orders can be passed to fulfil the purpose of granting protection from arrest till the time such an accused person can approach the High Court or Court of Session under whose territorial jurisdiction the offence has taken place.


c. The applicant accused should be able to satisfy the Court regarding his/her inability to seek anticipatory bail from the Court which has the territorial jurisdiction the offence has taken place.


d. Such orders should only be passed in exceptional and rare cases.


The court emphasised speedy access to justice and rejected absolute jurisdictional bars, allowing interim orders to protect the accused until they can approach the court where the offence transpired. However, questions linger about the court’s choice to grant only time-bound transit anticipatory bail, leaving room for debate on the extent of fundamental rights for accused individuals.


Additionally, the judgment didn’t address whether multiple jurisdictions could concurrently grant anticipatory bail in cases involving offences across different cities or states—a point of potential legal ambiguity. Overall, the decision brings clarity to the concept of transit anticipatory bail but leaves room for further exploration of related legal nuances.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The content may not reflect the most current legal developments and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Readers should consult a qualified legal professional before taking any action based on the information provided. The authors and publishers disclaim any liability for any loss or damage incurred as a result of reliance on this article. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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