In race between accused and police, Mumbai court uses token numbers to decide on bail plea fate

In a race between the accused to file bail application and the police its charge sheet, two token numbers determined a special court’s decision in a recent order.

The Dindoshi police had arrested three men — Mustafizur Shaikh, Tabaraq Sayyad and Mubaraq Sayyed — on December 8, 2020, for alleged possession of 57 kg of ganja. An offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was registered against them.

As per the Act, the police have to file a charge sheet within 180 days of the first remand of the three men. Their lawyer claimed that after the charge sheet was not filed on the 180th day, default bail pleas were moved the next day on their behalf. On the same day, the police also came before the court with the charge sheet.

“…On 7.6.2021 both charge sheet and application for default bail came to be filed. Therefore, the question arises as to which is first in point of time. On perusal of bail application and report of the office, it can be seen that bail application came to be filed at 11am on 7.6.2021 and token no 1 is given to the said application. Further, it reveals that the charge sheet is filed on 7.6.2021 and token no 22 is given to the charge sheet. That means bail application of the accused is prior in point of time,” the court said.

The police claimed that since the 180th day was a Sunday, the charge sheet could be filed on the next working day and hence there was no delay. The defence lawyer, however, submitted there were judgments by the Supreme Court which clarified that the statutory period for filing of the charge sheet cannot be extended.

The court accepted the contention and said the prosecution ought to have filed the charge sheet on or before June 6, the 180th day since the three men were produced before the court for the first time. “…It can be said that indefeasible right accrued in favour of accused as soon as 180th day was over and immediately on next date, at 181th day at 11am the accused availed his right by filing bail application. Therefore, the indefeasible right accrued in favour of the accused cannot be defeated or extinguished by the subsequent filing of charge sheet,” the court said.

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