Enforcement Directorate cannot keep filing chargesheets to keep accused persons in jail, says SC

The Enforcement Directorate cannot keep filing supplementary chargesheets to deny default bail to accused persons in the cases it is investigating, the Supreme Court verbally observed on Wednesday, reported Bar and Bench.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said that the central law enforcement agency’s method of continuing their investigation indefinitely and keeping the accused in jail without trial is bothering the court.

“The whole object of default bail is that you do not arrest until investigation is complete,” the court said. “You cannot say trial will not commence unless investigation is not complete. You cannot keep on filing supplementary chargesheet and the person is in jail without trial.”

An arrested person is entitled to default bail when the investigating authorities are unable to complete their investigation or file a chargesheet within the timeline precribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

A chargesheet is usually filed between 60 days to 90 days and if the investigation is not completed within that period, the accused person is entitled to seek default bail. However, the court has observed that the investigating authority files supplementary chargesheets to deny default bail to the accused even if the investigation has not been completed.

On Wednesday, the court made the remarks while hearing the bail plea of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s aide Prem Prakash who has been accused in an illegal mining case. Prakash has been in jail for 18 months.

The court told the Enforcement Directorate that the trial has to begin when they arrest an accused person. “In some cases we will take it up and we are putting you to notice in that,” said the bench.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, told the court that there are chances that Prakash may tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses in the case if he was released.

“You come to us if he does any of that,” the court told Raju. “But 18 months in jail?”

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